Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Lectionary 1276

A fragment of Lect 1276,
with the Gospels-text
artificially enhanced.
           Around 5,600 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament – ranging from small fragments to full 27-book collections – are known to exist.  About 2,500 of them are lectionaries.  Yet although lectionaries constitute over 40% of our New Testament manuscripts, the study of lectionaries is perhaps the most neglected area in New Testament text-critical research.   Lectionaries are considered so unimportant in some circles that the textual apparatus of the recently published Tyndale House edition of the Greek New Testament does not ever cite a lectionary.  There is a reason for some of this neglect – or avoidance – of lectionaries:  in the case of at least eight out of ten lectionaries, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all – basically the same form of text, divided into the same segments, assigned to the same days and occasions, with only minor anomalies such as the inclusion of a special feast-day to honor a local cleric or a bishop’s patron saint.
            The lectionary we are examining today is different:  lectionary 1276 is a small fragment that was published in 1900 by Charles Taylor, as part of the immense research-project involving the materials obtained by him and Solomon Schechter from the Cairo Genizah.  Being only a small fragment, lectionary 1276 does not contain much text; only a few lines from Matthew 10:2-4 and 10:11-15, and John 20:11-15 are extant.  But what makes Lectionary 1276 special is its age:  its online profile at the website of Cambridge University states, “The upper script” – that is, the writing in the Hebrew composition for which the lectionary’s parchment was recycled – “is Hebrew with sparse Palestinian vocalisation, and has been dated to the 8th or 9th century by Allony and Diez-Macho (1958-1959: 58). The under script is a Greek biblical majuscule that has been dated to between the 6th and 9th centuries.  Tchernetska (2002: 248-249) believes that the 6th-century date is more likely.”  Natalie Tchernetska is not the only researcher to prefer a production-date in the 500s for lectionary 1276; Carroll D. Osburn also accepted this dating in his 1995 essay The Greek Lectionaries of the New Testament.  If this is the case, Lectionary 1276 is not only one of our earliest Greek lectionaries, but I reckon that it is among the 20 oldest Greek manuscripts of any kind which preserve the passages that it contains.
Another piece of Lect 1276,
with the Gospels-text
artificially enhanced.
            The identification of this manuscript as a lectionary is elicited by three features:  first, it has text from Matthew 10 and John 20, and it has the title “Gospel According to Matthew” written above the excerpt from Matthew; in addition, Taylor noted that there appears to be the remains of a sub-title which means “for the fifth day,” which is not unusual in lectionaries preceding readings assigned to Thursdays.
            Since lectionary 1276 is a palimpsest, it is not easy to discern its contents via a simple view of the fragment.  However, if one accesses the online page-views at Cambridge University's digital library, selects “Open with Mirador” from the sub-menu (accessible after pressing the three-bar button), toggles the side panel (again using the three-bar button), rotates the view, and adjusts Contrast to about 140% and Brightness to about 120%, it becomes much easier to perceive the Greek uncial letters through the Hebrew writing.                         
            What kind of text was in this lectionary?  With so little text to work with, it is not easy to make a sure assessment; nevertheless, it appears to be Byzantine, in consideration of the following readings.
The text of Lect 1276,
based on Charles Taylor's
            ● In Matthew 10:3, Lect 1276 supports Θαδδαῖος ὁ ἐπικληθεις Λεββαῖος.  This reading is not supported by Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, or Bezae; B and À read Θαδδαῖος and D reads Λεββαῖος.  Metzger asserts that the Alexandrian and Western readings have been combined to produce the longer reading, and Willker concurs, calling the Byzantine reading “an obvious conflation.”   However, a few things weigh against this:  first, no such conflation is in the Byzantine Text in Mark 3:18, where the Alexandrian text names Thaddeus and the Western text names Lebbaeus.  If the Alexandrian reading is nothing but a replacement of Λεββαῖος with Θαδδαῖος, or vice versa, then one of these readings accounts for the other as a simple name-substitution.  But the Western reading is accounted for by the Byzantine reading, if an early copyist’s line of sight skipped from the end of Λεββαῖος to the end of Θαδδαῖος, causing the loss of the phrase “who was surnamed Thaddaeus.”  The support for the Byzantine reading is very broad; it includes Σ L Δ W Θ 157 700, and the Peshitta, and it is quoted, c. 380, in the Apostolic Constitutions (VI:14) and by Chrysostom.  Its presence in Lectionary 1276 adds to the extent of its early attestation.       
            ● In Matthew 10:11, Lect 1276 supports δ’ αν πόλιν η κώμην.  Codex D has a drastically different word-order; f1 does not include η κώμην, and f13 puts η κώμην after εισέλθητε, indicating that Lect 1276’s text is neither Western nor Caesarean.  Yet, it does not strictly agree here with the Alexandrian and Byzantine form of the verse either; as Taylor observed, εισέλθητε is not in the manuscript (although he added it in his reconstruction). 
            ● In Matthew 10:13, Lect 1276 supports the usual reading ἐλθάτω, disagreeing with D which reads εστε, and with S Ω 28 which read εισελθάτω.
            ● In Matthew 10:13, Lect 1276 disagree with D again by including αξια; D replaces η αξια η with γε. 
            ● In Matthew 10:13, Lect 1276 agrees with Β À W, disagreeing with almost all other witnesses, by reading εφ instead of προς. 
            ● In Matthew 10:13, Lect 1276 reads –καμψε– which implies that when pristine, the text read ανακάμψει (as Luke 10:6 reads); Taylor observed that the minuscule 243 shares this reading, diverging from almost all other witnesses which support επιστραφήτω.
            ● In Matthew 10:14, Lect 1276 supports the inclusion of μη δέξηται, disagreeing with B*.
            ● In John 20:11, Lect 1276 supports the spelling ϊστήκει, agreeing with À L A N W Δ, and disagreeing with B Dsupp K and most manuscripts, which read ειστήκει.         
            ● In John 20:11, Lect 1276 supports the normal reading προς, disagreeing with À (which reads εν).
            ● In John 20:11, Lect 1276 supports the word-order εξω κλαιουσα, agreeing with B L N W and disagreeing with Π Μ Κ Θ Ψ and most manuscripts.
            ● In John 20:13, Lect 1276 does not support the inclusion of τινα ζητεις which is read by A D 579 1424.
            ● In John 20:13, Lect 1276 does not support τεθείκασιν (read by W) or τεθείκαν (read by D); it has a word that begins with epsilon, probably the normal reading εθηκαν.
            ● In John 20:15, there does not appear to be room for τινα ζητεις; however the manuscript is very difficult to read at this point.
            All in all, while Lect 1276 has only a limited amount of text, and tends to agree with the Alexandrian Text on some small points, and has anomalous readings in Matthew 10:11 and 10:13, it agrees with the Byzantine Text at the major variant-unit in Matthew 10:3.   It does not show any close association with the Western and f1 forms of the text.

Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

093: A Byzantine Fragment of Acts from the 500s in Egypt

            Today, let’s take a close look at part of 093 – a small fragment that contains text from Acts 24:22-26, and text from First Peter 2:22-3:7.  (I will focus here especially on the text from Acts.  093 is a palimpsest with an interesting history:  it was among the approximately 193,000 fragments that had been stored in the Genizah of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo over the course of centuries.  (The story of how researchers Charles Taylor and Solomon Schechter discovered this immense collection of materials and, in 1896-1897, arranged for its transportation to Cambridge University for continued study, can be found online.) 
            Charles Taylor published a transcription of the text from Acts in 093 in 1900, along with a short summary of the text from First Peter, and some other texts.  He also noted that the upper writing on the palimpsest consisted of Hebrew extracts from the Bereshith Rabbah (ch. 45, 47,and 98). The lower writing contains most of Acts 24:22-26 on one page in two columns of 24 lines each.  The text on the verso is mostly illegible but Taylor made out words from the tops of the two columns:  from Acts 24:26, οτι χρηματα / δοθησεται, and from Acts 24:27, ελαβεν διαδο / χον ο Φηλιξ  / Πορκιον Φη / στον.  (This manuscript is identified in the catalog of Joseph van Haelst as item 487; in the Taylor-Schechter Collection it is in Collection 12, 189 and 208.  For a while, 093 was identified with the siglum ﬥ.)
Green lines:  093 disagrees with Alex.
Red lines:  093 disagrees with Byz.
            The smattering of text on the verso does not allow much insight regarding the type of text of Acts that 093 contains, inasmuch as the Alexandrian Text and the Byzantine Text are in exact agreement in those parts of Acts 24:26 and 24:27.  When we turn to the much more extensive text on the recto, however, there can be no doubt:  093’s text of Acts is Byzantine:  except for its inclusion of the contracted sacred name Ιν after Χν in verse 24, and the reading λαβων instead of μεταλαβὼν in verse 25, the text from Acts in 093 agrees perfectly with the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform.  (The Textus Receptus differs from RP2005 in this passage in two places; the TR includes αυτου after γυναικι in 24:24, and reads δε between αμα and και in 24:26.)
            Meanwhile, 093 disagrees with the Nestle-Aland compilation at the following seven places:
● 1.  In verse 22, there is a word-order variant:  ανεβαλετο αυτους follows Φηλιξ, instead of the Alexandrian reading in which ανεβαλετο δε αυτους precedes ὁ Φηλιξ.
● 2.  In verse 22, after οδου, 093 reads ειπων, not ειπας.
● 3.  In verse 23, before τω, 093 reads τε. 
● 4.  In verse 23, after τηρεισθαι, 093 reads τον Παυλον instead of αυτον.
● 5.  In verse 23, before αυτω, 093 reads η προσέρχεσθαι.
● 6.  In verse 24, before γυναικι, 093 does not read ιδία. 
● 7.  In verse 25, after μέλλοντος, 093 reads εσεσθαι.

            Two points are illustrated by this evidence. 
            First, contrary to the much-repeated claim that the Textus Receptus is a late medieval compilation (as opposed to an essentially early form of the text with a relatively small stratum of late medieval readings), 093 confirms that the Byzantine Text of Acts – at least, Acts 24:22-26 – existed in the 500s, around a thousand years before Erasmus, Stephanus, and Beza made their compilations.
            Second, there is some reason to suspect that apparatuses in some widely used Greek New Testaments cannot be trusted to present evidence in an even-handed way in cases where Byzantine readings receive early support:  
                 Of the seven reading in Acts 24:22-26 that are supported by 093 and the majority of Greek manuscripts, the Nestle-Aland apparatus (in NA27) fails to record four of them (#2, 3, 4, and 6). 
                 In the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th ed.) only one variant-unit is covered in the verses that are extant in 093:  the contest between Ιν Χν and just Χν in 24:24.  In this case the theoretical mechanics of the “expansion of piety” have been rejected in favor of strong early support (including support from 093) for the longer reading. 
                 ● In the apparatus of the Tyndale House edition of the Greek New Testament, only one textual contest in the passage that is extant in 093 is mentioned:  the contest in Acts 24:24 between the inclusion or non-inclusion of ιδια before γυναικι, and the inclusion or non-inclusion of αυτου after γυναικι.  The reading found in 093 is mentioned as a reading supported by C* L P 1424, but 093’s support is not mentioned.  The compilers of the Tyndale House edition of the Greek New Testament apparently never looked at 093.  (A list of consulted witnesses in an appendix of THEGNT does not mention 093, although over a dozen manuscripts younger than 093 are listed.)   
            Third – provisionally accepting the classification of the fragmentary text from First Peter 2:22-3:7 as Alexandrian – it was possible for a Byzantine text of Acts to appear in the same manuscript as an Alexandrian text of First Peter in Cairo, Egypt.  While it cannot be demonstrated that 093 was produced in Egypt, the presence of an Alexandrian text of First Peter in the manuscript favors this possibility, and the presence of 093 among the genizah’s fragments also indicates that the Byzantine Text of Acts in the 500s was used in a broad range of territory. 

            093 is not the only manuscript with texts from the New Testament that was discovered in the Cairo Genizah.   A few palimpsests were discovered to have material from the New Testament in their lower writing, in Palestinian Aramaic; these texts were studied, and published, by the scholarly sisters Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlop Gibson, with assistance from J. R. Harris – including a palimpsest-fragment with Palestian Aramaic text from John 14:25-15:16.  The Syriac specialist G. H. Gwilliam published the contents of five palimpsest-fragments (assigned to the 700s) in 1893, containing text from chapters 4 and 5 of Numbers, and from Colossians 4:12-18, First Thessalonians 1:1-3 and 4:3-15, Second Timothy 1:10-2:7, and Titus 1:11-2:8.  Michael Sokoloff and Joseph Yahalom brought such investigations up to date in 1979, and expanded upon them, in a detailed essay in Revue d’Histoire des Textes, “Christian palimpsests from the Cairo Geniza.”  (Fragments of manuscripts of the Hexapla from the Cairo Genizah, by the way, can be viewed at the Greek Bible in Byzantine Judaism website.)

            A few other palimpsest-fragments in the Cairo Genizah contain some New Testament passages.  (One fragment contains Syriac text from Second Corinthians 3:2-15; another fragment contains Syriac text from chapters 3 and 4 of First Thessalonians.)  The lower writing on yet another fragment consists of the remains of an early (600s or 700s?) Greek uncial lectionary, now catalogued as lectionary 1276, a.k.a. Taylor-Schechter 16.93, containing excerpts from Matthew 10:2-15 and John 20:11-15.  We may take a closer look at lectionary 1276 in a future post.

Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Mary, Martha, and John 11

            Back in 2016, an interesting text-critical thesis was proposed in Harvard Theological Review:   unusual readings in Papyrus 66, considered alongside textual variants in many other manuscripts, indicate that the character of Martha did not originally appear in the Gospel of John; she was inserted by a later writer who understood Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene to be the same person, and who wished to diminish the role of Mary Magdalene.
            Lately this theory has been getting some attention;  in 2018, Candida Moss (of Notre Dame University) concluded an article about it by stating, “for the first time there is a plausible scholarly argument for the idea that Mary Magdalene was written out of the Bible and the history books.”  And in July of 2019, Elizabeth Schrader, the thesis-writer, made an appearance at the Religion for Breakfast video-show, promoting the theory.
            Is Schrader’s main idea plausible, or has she misread the evidence?  She has misread the evidence, mainly by consistently misinterpreting scribal errors as if they have implications that they simply do not have.  This may be concisely demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt by undertaking the challenge that Schrader issued near the end of her Religion for Breakfast interview:  to demonstrate that Martha is not an addition to the Gospel of John, one needs to do the following:
            ● explain the unusual readings in P66.
            ● explain why the names are always changing in John 11:5. 
            ● explain why there’s only one sister in so much early artwork.
            ● explain why there is not similar confusion involving the names of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42.
            ● explain the reading of Codex Alexandrinus in John 11:1, where the name Mary is changed to Martha, and the verse ends by referring to his sister rather than her sister.

Let’s begin.


            The copyist who transcribed the text of P66 was not particularly competent.  Occasionally, he got ahead of himself and over-anticipated the text he was copying, somewhat it the same way that a typist, upon encountering the phrase “The quick brown fox jumped” at the end of a page, might continue to type “over the lazy dogs,” without bothering to turn the page – only to find a different phrase after the page is turned. 
            In John 11:1, the copyist of P66 initially wrote the Greek equivalent of “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and Mary her sister.”  Then, realizing that he had written “Mary” twice,” he went back and corrected the text by erasing the letter iota in the second Μαριας and replacing it with the letter theta, so as to write Μαρθας.  This kind of mistake is not particularly unusual for this copyist; he made at least 15 other mistakes of dittography (writing twice what should be written once) in the text of John.  
            Apart from this careless one-letter mistake, the copyist of P66 initially wrote a normal text of John 11:1, identical to what is found in the Textus Receptus.  In verse 3, we find a reading in which, according to Schrader, “one named woman has been split into two unnamed women.”  After writing the Greek equivalent of “Sent, therefore,” (απεστιλεν ουν) the copyist initially wrote a name – either Μαριας  or Μαρθας – and continued on a little further, to the end of the line he was writing:  προς αυτον λεγουσα, that is, “to Him, saying.”  (Probably he also started the verse with και (and) and then declined to keep the word, but this does not figure into the subject at hand.)  At this point, the copyist of P66 realized that he had over-anticipated the text in his exemplar (perhaps when he finished writing λεγουσα, consulted his exemplar, and saw that it read λεγουσαι), went back, adjusted the endings of the verbs so to as to turn them into plurals (απεστιλαν and λεγουσαι), erased the name (which is why we’re not sure whether it was Μαριας  or Μαρθας , but I suspect it was Μαριας), and in the space where the name had been, wrote αι αδελφαι, that is, “the sisters.” 
            It could be said that one woman has been replaced with a reference to two woman – but to what extent is this saying anything more than that the copyist of P66 began verse 3 by assuming that it was about one woman, and then corrected his mistake?  If the presence of αι αδελφαι was the special property of an interpolated manuscript in the hands of the copyist of P66, then it certainly was well-travelled:  αι αδελφαι is the reading here in John 11:3 in Codex Vaticanus, and in Codex Sinaiticus; αι αδελφαι is the reading in Papyrus 45, and in Papyrus 75.  Likewise Origen, in his Commentary on John, VI:40, in the course of discussing a textual variant in John 1:28, mentions that John says that Bethany was the town of Lazarus, and of Martha and Mary.  If one consults Schrader’s data-tables in which the contents of many manuscripts are compared, it appears that αι αδελφαι is supported in every extant Greek manuscript in the list in which verse 3 appears – except P66, in which the copyist almost immediately fixed his mistake. 
            Schrader seems to consider problematic the inclusion of αυτης (her sister) at the end of John 11:1, arguing that the original text was αυτου.  However, by asserting that αυτου is the original reading, Schrader is arguing for a reading that originated as an expression of a tendency among some copyists (especially in Old Latin texts) to adjust the text in favor of the dominance of men – that is, in Codex A (from the 400s), 841 (from the 1400s), 1009 (from the 1200s), 1071 (from the 1100s), and in two medieval lectionaries, we see the effect of a scribal preference to refer to “his sister” instead of “her sister.”  In such a smattering of witnesses, the reading αυτου simply pops up; meanwhile in P66, P75, B, ℵ, K, L, M, S, W, Y, Δ, Θ, Π, 047, and so on, αυτης has ancient, abundant, and coherent support.
            To put it another way:  there is no genealogical connection between Codex A and the medieval minuscules 423, 841, 1009, 1071, and two lectionaries; the reading αυτου at the end of John 11:1 appears in these manuscripts not as something with ancient roots, but as something more like a weed that has sprouted from the minds of what a few copyists thought the text should say.              
            Before moving on to the next point, I should address a reading in the important medieval minuscule 157:  In John 11:1, the words και Μαρθας are absent.  Is this evidence that minuscule 157 echoes some ancient exemplar in which Martha did not appear in the narrative?  No; what has happened is that the preceding word Μαριας appears at the end of a line; the copyist lost his line of sight as he began the next line, shifting forward to the letters at the end of και Μαρθας.  Thus he accidentally skipped those two words – but their presence in his exemplar is obvious from the words that he wrote next:  της αδελφης αυτης (that is, her sister).  Schrader observes that 157 thus “nonsensically” applies a feminine pronoun to Lazarus, but it seems not to have registered that the obvious explanation of this nonsense-reading is that a simple scribal mistake has been made, rather than that a lost Martha-less form of John 11 is being attested.


            The text of John 11:5 in most Greek manuscripts says, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”  Whether one consults the UBS compilation or the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform, or Michael Holmes’ SBL-GNT, or even the Textus Receptus, they all agree:  ἠγάπα δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὴν Μάρθαν καὶ τὴν ἀδελφὴν αὐτῆς καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον.  The text of P66 is identical with the exception that Jesus’ name is contracted (as is typical in Greek manuscripts) and the word αὐτῆς is not in the text; however it is supplied in the margin.   
            An assortment of other manuscripts disagree, primarily because of two scribal tendencies:  (1)  the tendency to supply names, so as to make the text more explicit, and
(2)  the tendency to put Mary’s name first, so as to correspond to the order of names given when the characters are introduced in John 11:1.
            Under the influence of those two natural tendencies, some copyists rewrote the verse to say, “Now Jesus loved Mary and her sister Martha, and Lazarus.”  This may be considered the Caesarean form of the verse, attested in a special cluster of manuscripts (consisting mainly of Θ, f1, f13, 543, 565, 828, and others), the members of which share other textual features, such as unusual placements of the pericope adulterae (John 7:53-8:11).  
            A few other manuscripts list Martha first, but add Mary’s name, so as to say, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary, and Lazarus.”  Schrader lists two medieval manuscripts – 2561 and 2680 – which support the form, “Now Jesus loved Mary and her sister and Lazarus,” thus putting Mary’s name in the place formerly occupied by Martha’s name.  
            What is not seen in any of these Greek manuscripts is a form of the text in which Martha is entirely absent.  Even in the few relatively late manuscripts in which her name does not appear in 11:5, she is referred to as Mary’s sister.  When the rival readings are analyzed, from the more explicit to the less specific, and from those harmonized to 11:1 to those less harmonized, the anomalies are easily sorted out and the usual, ordinary text is confirmed, and the flow from more specific to less specific, and from more harmonized to less harmonized, is generally matched by the flow from the  younger to the older witnesses.  In other words, the consistent picture shown by Greek manuscripts in John 11:5 is that the insertion of Mary’s name, and the transposition of Mary’s name to the front of the list, and the loss of Martha’s name, are late scribal adjustments, not echoes of an ancient exemplar.
            Furthermore, it is not accurate to say that the names in John 11:5 are “always changing.”  The verse is altered in the Caesarean Text, i.e., in select members of f1 and  f13.  But in most manuscripts (including P45, P75, ℵ, B, A, K, L, W) it is stable.  In all Greek manuscripts of John 11:5, the verse conveys that Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus, whether the names of all three individuals are supplied in this verse or not.


            In Schrader’s thesis, there is very little emphasis on artwork; her appeal to artwork in the Religion for Breakfast interview may be something that was just thrown in.  Nevertheless, it may be briefly considered:  artwork is art, and the degree of detail provided in a work of art is subject to the whims, abilities, and resources of the artist.  Artists have creative freedom which copyists do not.  A depiction of the resurrection of Lazarus in the Catacomb of the Giordani shows only Jesus and Lazarus.  Similarly in a mosaic on the wall of the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, made around 530, a scene depicts the raising of Lazarus without any females present.  Likewise the Murano Diptych, from the 400s-500s, depicts Jesus and Lazarus, but no women.  And at the Museo Pio-Cristiano at the Vatican, a scene on a sarcophagus-lid from the cemetery of Saint Agnes depicts the resurrection of Lazarus, but without anyone except Jesus and Lazarus. 
               Should we therefore assume that the artists of these four early works of art knew a form of John 11 in which Mary and Martha (and the crowd of mourners accompanying them) do not appear?  (Meanwhile The Jonah Sarcophagus depicts two women present at the raising of Lazarus.)  I think the point is already clear:  it would be absurd to treat ancient artwork as a means to answer the question at hand.


            Why, we are invited to ask, is there instability involving the names of Mary and Martha in John 11:1-12:2, but not in Luke 10:38-42, where the same two characters are depicted?  There are two very simple reasons why this is the case.  First, Luke 10:38-42 constitutes only five verses, in which Mary’s name appears twice and Martha’s name appears four times, and the two names never appear side-by-side; in contrast, John 11:1-12:2 constitutes 59 verses – or 46, if we exclude John 11:47-57, which is really a different scene – in which Mary’s name appears eight times and Martha’s name appears eight times, and both names appear in the same sentence twice (in v. 1 and v. 19).  The passage in Luke is one-eighth the length of the passage in John, and it provides very little opportunity to get the sisters’ names mixed up.
            The second reason is that while in John, each sister is described as a sister of Lazarus, and both sisters undertake similar actions (both say the same thing to Jesus, in John 11:21 and 11:32), in Luke their actions and attitudes form a stark contrast; Martha is busy, while Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet.  It is impossible not to see this contrast in the episode in Luke; it forms the foundation of the lesson that is intended to be conveyed.  Meanwhile, in John, the two sisters are described similarly, and say similar things.  There is a stark contrast between them in Luke which precludes confusion of the two individuals, whereas in John there is not.  

A hypothetical reconstruction
of the uncorrected text of John 11:1
in Codex A.  The manuscript is online.

In Codex Alexandrinus, the text that stands in the manuscript now says, “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and Martha his sister,” differing from the usual text only by the presence of “his” (αυτου) instead of “her” (αυτης), a difference addressed already.  When the copyist initially wrote out this verse, however, he made another, more significant mistake (which was detected by the researcher Cowper in 1840). 
            Normally, the text of John 11:1 goes, Ἦν δέ τις ἀσθενῶν Λάζαρος ἀπὸ Βηθανίας, ἐκ τῆς κώμης Μαρίας καὶ Μάρθας τῆς ἀδελφῆς αὐτῆς – “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.”  But besides shifting from αυτης to αυτου (and thus causing the text to refer to “his sister Martha”), the copyist of Codex A made a parableptic error, skipping from the letters –as at the end of Μαρίας to the same letters at the end of καὶ Μάρθας, thus skipping the two words καὶ Μάρθας.  A clever correction was made:  the word κώμης was erased, and then written in small letters at the end of the previous line, and the newly blank space was filled with the words Μαρίας καὶ Μάρθας. 
            That’s all there is to that scribal mistake and correction.  The other mistake in John 11:1 in Codex A – αυτου instead of αὐτῆς – was addressed in the first point.

            Although Schrader’s five-part challenge has been answered, there are two additional components of her thesis that I will address here. 


            This point is slightly technical:  should the word αυτη in 11:4 be understood as if it was meant to signify the person Jesus was addressing – causing the sentence to begin, “Upon hearing that, Jesus said to her” – or should it be understood (as most English translations render it) instead as a nominative term, causing the sentence to begin, “Upon hearing that, Jesus said, “This,” and so forth.   The copyist of P66 put a comma-like mark before αυτη, as if he perceived that the text could initially seem ambiguous without it, and wished to ensure that readers would understand the αυτη to mean “This” instead of “to her.”
            And the copyist of P66 wasn’t the only scribe to do so.  Codex Sinaiticus has a separating mark between ειπεν and αυτη.  In Codex Vaticanus, ειπεν ends a line, and some empty space is leftover, before αυτη begins the next line.   Jumping ahead several hundred years, the Elfleda Bond Goodspeed Gospels displays a separating dot between ειπεν and αυτη.  I am confident that many other copies share this feature, so as to elicit the understanding that “This sickness” was the intended meaning.  In some other manuscripts, such as 138 and 1321, the risk of ambiguity has been eliminated by moving αυτη to the other side of ἡ ἀσθένεια. (Schrader lists a total of 12 Greek manuscripts with this reading, and seems to consider each one as somehow problematic, but this is simply a clarifying transposition.)   Following this clever adjustment, some copyists conflated both placements; as a result, seven manuscripts Schrader has examined have αυτη both before, and after, ἡ ἀσθένεια.  (These, too, are counted as problematic by Schrader.)

            The translator of the Latin text in the Old Latin Codex Carotensis (VL 33) seems to have been at a disadvantage; his Greek exemplar(s) apparently did not have distinction-making marks or separation-spaces in this verse, and due to this ambiguity, this manuscript has the phrase “dixit ei,” that is, “said to her,” in John 11:4.  This is a symptom of a Latin translator’s confusion, however; it does not indicate that αυτη was meant to be understood this way. 


            In P66 – after Martha’s name has appeared in – John 12:2 begins not with the usual ἐποίησαν (“they made), but with the singular ἐποίησεν.  This is a very slight variation, probably elicited by a scribe’s desire to relieve readers of the burden of asking who “they” were; the resultant sense, with ἐποίησεν, is that Lazarus made a supper for Jesus.  Minuscules 295 and 841, Schrader has observed, share this reading.
            A little further along in the verse, P66 says that Martha served.  This is the reading of almost all manuscripts, whether early or late – but – but Schrader has observed that minuscules 27, 63, and 1194 have Mary’s name here, instead of Martha’s.  I leave it to readers to mull over the probabilities:  is this a simple effect of scribal inattentiveness, sparked by anticipation of Mary’s actions in the following verse, or do three Byzantine minuscules preserve the original reading, against all other Greek manuscripts?


            There is more material in Schrader’s thesis that I have not considered in this brief essay.  However, the major points have been covered, and her five-point challenge has been answered.  Although Schrader has collected many variant-readings in John 11 (which must have taken considerable work), a very large majority of the readings in question, and especially the variants at the core of her arguments, are the effects of scribal carelessness, or the effects of scribes’ desire to augment the clarity the text.   
            This tends to hollow out her claim that one in five of the Greek manuscripts she has examined displays some problem involving the character of Martha in John 11:1-12:2; the evidence points toward a different and unremarkable direction:  copyists were sometimes careless, and sometimes desired to augment the clarity of the text.  None of these textual variants suggests anything remotely resembling the massive interpolation that Schrader has proposed.

Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.

n the first posting of this post, I had the words απεστιλεν and απεστιλαν mixed up.  My bad.]


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Mark 10:24: Is It Easy to Enter the Kingdom?

            In Mark 10:23, Jesus told His followers, “How difficult it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God.”  This was just after a young man with many possessions had gone away from Jesus, after Jesus had invited him to sell everything he had, and give to the poor, and expect heavenly treasures instead.  The disciples were astonished.  But then, in Mark 10:24, Jesus affirmed:  “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!”
Mark 10:24 in GA 2474 (900s).
            That is Jesus’ statement in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark, representative of a broad assortment of locales.  The same sense is given in the KJV, the NKJV, the EHV (Evangelical Heritage Version), the MEV (Modern English Version), and the WEB (World English Bible).  The Latin Vulgate (produced by Jerome in 383), the Gothic Version (produced by Wulfilas in the mid-300s), the Peshitta (the dominant Syriac version, probably produced in the late 300s), the Sinaitic Syriac, and most Old Latin copies (representing Latin translations made before the Vulgate) agree with this.
            Yet, when one turns to popular modern English versions such as the ESV, NIV, and CSB, the text of Mark 10:24 is shorter:  the phrase “for those who trust in riches” is absent.  This is not due to any editorial decision on the part of translators:  the phrase is missing in four important early manuscripts Sinaiticus (ℵ), Vaticanus (B), Delta (Δ), and Ψ, and in the Old Latin Codex Bobbiensis (k), and two Egyptian versions (the Sahidic and Bohairic). 
            Although ℵ, B, and k are old (from the fourth and fifth centuries) they are relatively isolated.  Furthermore, this is one of those cases – not as rare as one might think – in which our earliest manuscripts are not our earliest evidence.  Two important patristic writers provide significantly older evidence:  Clement of Alexandria (in the fourth chapter of his composition Who Is The Rich Man Who Shall Be Saved?), and Ephrem Syrus (in his Commentary on the Diatessaron). Let’s look at them one at a time.
            The exact years of Clement of Alexandria’s birth and death are unknown, but it can be safely deduced that he served the church from some time in the 180s to some time in the 210s.  Clement espoused various controversial doctrines, but for today’s purposes, we may zoom in on his quotations in the composition Who Is the Rich Man Who Shall Be Saved?:  in chapter 4, Clement makes an extensive quotation from Mark 10:17-31, specifically stating (at the outset of the next chapter) that he is drawing on text from the Gospel of Mark.  The text of Clement’s work was the subject of a doctoral dissertation by Reuben Swanson, and in his volume on Mark in the New Testament Greek Manuscripts series, he provides the relevant extract from Mark 10:23:
            περιβλεψαμενος δε ο Ιησους λεγει τοις μαθηταις αυτου, πως δυσκολως οι τα χρηματα (χρημα 1 ms) εχοντες ειςελευσονται εις την βασιλειαν του θεου.   
            Here is the Byzantine text of Mark 10:23, with differences noted:
            Και περιβλεψαμενος [Clement has και before περιβλεψαμενος, instead of δε after it]
            ο Ιησους λεγει τοις μαθηταις αυτου, [no differences]
            πως δυσκολως οι τα χρηματα (χρημα 1 ms) [no differences]
            εχοντες εις την βασιλειαν του θεου ειςελευσονται [Clement has ειςελευσονται before the words εις την βασιλειαν του θεου instead of after them].  

            Likewise for Mark 10:24, Swanson has provided Clement’s text:
            Οι δε μαθηται εθαμβουντο επι τοις λογοις αυτου.   παλιν δε ο Ιησους αποκριθεις λεγει αυτοις, Τεκνα, πως δυσκολον εστι τους πεποιθοτας επι χρημσασιν εις την βασιλειαν του θεου εισελθειν.
            Comparing this to the Byzantine text of Mark 10:24, bit by bit, we see the following differences:
            Οι δε μαθηται εθαμβουντο επι τοις λογοις αυτου.   [no differences]
            παλιν δε ο Ιησους αποκριθεις λεγει αυτοις, [transposition of παλιν]
            Τεκνα, πως δυσκολον εστιν τους πεποιθοτας επι χρημσασιν [spelling; χρημασιν]
            εις την βασιλειαν του θεου εισελθειν [no differences].
            (I think Swanson’s transcription contains a typo and should read χρημασιν.)

            The thing to see is that as Clement quotes Mark 10:24, he quotes it with the words τους πεποιθοτας επι χρημσασιν – not in the Alexandrian form (which lacks this phrase), and not in the Western form (in which verse 24 appears after verse 25).  Thus we have confirmation, in a patristic composition written around the year 200 in Egypt, of the presence of this phrase in Mark 10:24.
            Now we turn to Ephrem Syrus.  Ephrem wrote in the mid-300s, in Syria, in the Syriac language.  The Diatessaron – the text upon which he wrote a commentary – is older; an individual named Tatian compiled the Diatessaron as a combination of all four Gospel accounts, in the early 170s.  The discovery of an important manuscript of Ephrem’s commentary on the Diatessaron was announced in 1957, when Syriac MS 709, assigned to the late 400s, was added to the Chester Beatty collection – and subsequently additional parts of Ephrem’s commentary were found, including two more portions of Chester Beatty Syriac MS 709 in the 1980s.  Not only was this evidence was unavailable to Hort in 1881; it was unavailable to Metzger when he wrote his Textual Commentary on the New Testament. 
            When we look into Ephrem’s quotations from Tatian’s Diatessaron, (cf. page 231 of Carmel McCarthy’s Saint Ephrem’s Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron:  An English Translation of Chester Beatty Syriac MS 709 with an Introduction and Notes) we see this statement:  “When he turned away, our Lord said, It is difficult for those who trust in their own riches.”  One might initially suspect that Ephrem has merely cited 10:23, but the quotation does not refer merely to those who possess wealth; it refers to those who trust in their wealth – a statement not found in Mark 10:23, nor in the parallel accounts in Matthew 19:23-24 and Luke 18:24-25, but exclusively in Mark 10:24.
            Via Ephrem’s comment, we may see the Gospels-text used by Tatian in the 170s – a text in which Mark 10:24 included the phrase “for those who trust in riches.”
            Thus two very early patristic writers, from two far-removed branches of the transmission-stream, constitute strong support for the inclusion of the words “for those who trust in riches” in the text of Mark 10:24; finding these citations in the quotations of Clement and Ephrem is roughly congruent to finding small second-century papyrus fragments of Mark 10:24 in Alexandria (where Clement wrote) and in Rome (where Tatian studied under Justin Martyr).
            Nevertheless, what answer shall be given to Metzger’s theory (phrased as an assertion):  “The rigor of Jesus’ saying was softened by the insertion of one or another qualification that limited its generality and brought it into closer connection with the context”?  Besides mentioning the usual reading, he adds that two different readings are attested:  Codex W and itc support πλουσιον, and 1241 reads οι τα χρηματα εχοντες.  The counter-point is not hard to find: πλουσιον is not a wholesale insertion, but a harmonization to the parallels in Matthew and Luke; meanwhile οι τα χρηματα εχοντες is a harmonization to the identical phrase in Mark 10:23.  (Willker mentions that the latter harmonization is read by five other minuscules, 588, 973. 1090, 2791, and 2812.)
            Finally, we may consider the simple mechanics by which the phrase for those who trust in riches could be lost.  This phrase – τους πεποιθοτας επι χρημασιν – ends with the same two letters that come before it, at the end of the word εστιν.  If an early copyist’s line of sight drifted from the letters ιν at the end of εστιν to the letters εστιν at the end of χρημασιν a line or two later, the accidental disappearance of the phrase in an early transmission-stream in Egypt is accounted for.  Meanwhile, everywhere else, the phrase was included, perpetuating the original reading, though in some witnesses it was expanded (so as to read “in their riches”) or harmonized to the parallels in Matthew and Luke or to the preceding verse.

            So, rather than tell His disciples that it is hard to enter into the kingdom of God, Jesus did not contradict what He said elsewhere, that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Entering God’s kingdom can be hard indeed, if we attach ourselves to the things of this world and turn them into priorities above the will of God.  But if we let go of the things of this world, and trust in the atoning work of Christ, with surrendered hearts, then the entrance into God’s kingdom, even through tribulations, can become not only easy, but joyful.

Friday, August 2, 2019

News: The Durham Gospels is Online!

            Nice try, Viking marauders, but we still have most of it!
            The Durham Gospels, an important Latin manuscript, has recently been digitized and made available online.  It is just one of the many manuscripts that can be viewed at the Durham Priory Library Recreated website, listed there as Durham Cathedral Library MS. A.II.17.
            The presentation-format at the website is better than practically any other manuscript-presentation on the internet; not only can the digital full-color page-views be magnified, so that viewers can zoom in on fine details, but by accessing a menu in the left upper corner of the page-views, viewers can rotate the page, adjust brightness, adjust contrast, adjust saturation, and more – even invert colors.  There is also an easy-to-navigate Rolodex-style bar of page-views below the main image, allowing viewers to sift through the entire manuscript.  It may be wished that this will become a new standard in online manuscript-presentation.  
            The Durham Gospels had already been produced (probably by monks at Lindisfarne monastery) well before the Vikings attacked there in 793.  It might have undergone some damage at the hands of the Vikings:  almost all of the Gospel of Matthew is missing.  The last two chapters of John are missing.  Several chapters of the Gospel of Luke are missing, too, and have been replaced with pages from another (very different) manuscript.  Presently, when one reads the Durham Gospels, the text of John appears first, which is highly unusual.  This was not how the manuscript was made; some unknown person re-ordered the pages.  Most of the text is neatly written in a semi-uncial insular script, very similar to the handwriting in the Echternach Gospels. 

Here is a basic index for the Durham Gospels:

2r – The Gospel of John begins, with a huge and elaborately embellished initial.
16r-16v contain the passage about the adulteress.
38v – The text of John ends in 19:32.
38r* – The text on this page is all somewhat damaged; its text begins in Matthew 25:35.
38v* – The text on this page begins in Matthew 25:45.
38r2 – The text on this page (as a note above the text near the upper left corner indicates) begins in Matthew 26:13 and continues through Matthew 26:23; the handwriting is different in the final line.
38v2 – The text on this page begins in Matthew 26:24.
38r3 – Centered on the page is the text of Matthew 28:17-20, within a frame enhanced by knotwork.  Although this is the last page of the Gospel of Matthew, it must have existed adjacent to 38v2 for some time, because the imprint of some of the lettering on 38v2 is visible on the page; the intervening pages from chapters 26, 27, and 28 were absent. 
38v3 has a full-page picture of Christ crucified, flanked by two angels.  A heading identifies Him as Jesus the King; the Greek letters alpha and omega appear to the left and right of His head, respectively.  A soldier is offering Him a sponge on the end of a reed (cf. Mark 15:36).  There are words on the outside of all four sides of the frame.  This may be the earliest English depiction of the crucifixion.
38r4 – Introduction to the Gospel of Mark.  The introduction begins with an elaborately decorated title.
394 – More introductory glosses, including a list of some non-Latin words (beginning with Abba)
40r – The text of Mark begins in 1:12.
(Many of the pages in the Gospel of Mark have been cut at the bottom of the page, almost as if someone was in very desperate need of blank parchment.)
66r features a pair of ornate embellished initials in the text of Mark 14:27.
69r features a particularly beautiful intial E, with knotwork, at the beginning of Mark 16:2.
69v has the text from Mark 16:3-14a (the last words are illis XI apparuit), but the final page of Mark is not extant.
70 apparently has been the victim of a thief; someone cut away the upper half of the page, probably to obtain a particularly beautiful sample of the copyist’s artistic penmanship.
70r begins the text of Luke 1:9.
71v, a well-executed M (with eagle-heads) begins the Magnificat, in Luke 1:46.
72v features some nice colorful artistry in the opening letters of Luke 2:1.
On fol, 75, half of the page has been cut out.
102v ends on the last line in Luke 22:2.
103r begins the supplemental manuscript, written in an entirely different script (uncial) and different ink, containing text from Luke 21:33ff., cola-and-commata style, in two narrow columns per page.
105r features, I think, an Anglo-Saxon note scrawled in the upper margin.  The name “Aldred” is in this note, and is repeated on the same page.  This may have been added by the individual known as Aldred the Scribe, who in the mid-900s inserted an Old English translation in between the Latin lines of the Lindisfarne Gospels.  This suggests, in turn, that the Durham Gospels were once housed in Chester-le-Street, the town where Aldred resided.
106v includes the text of Luke 22:43-44.
111v ends the last line of its text in Luke 23:44.

An ornamental initial
in the Durham Gospels.
            Many initials, especially those with colored interiors (yellow, green, purple) are surrounded by small red dots of lead, a feature shared by many initials and decorations in the Book of Kells.
            The Durham Gospels – at least, the main portion – was probably made at Lindisfarne, while either Eadberht or Eadfrith was bishop there (i.e., sometime in 688-721), and, probably, after undergoing severe damage when Vikings attacked Lindisfarne in 793, it was taken inland, and was (at least partly) repaired at Chester-le-Street by someone using part of a two-column Gospels-manuscript that had some affinity with copies made at Wearmouth-Jarrow
             Those seeking more detailed information about the Durham Gospels may wish to seek out The Durham Gospels:  Together with Fragments of a Gospel Book in Uncial (1980) by the team of Christopher Verey, Julian Brown, and Elisabeth Coatsworth, along with Roger Powell. 
             The individuals responsible for the digitalization of the manuscripts at the Durham Priory Library Recreated website are to be thanked and congratulated for bringing online such an excellent collection of resources.  Funding for the project has come from, among other places, The Foyle Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Jnr. Charitable Trust, the Zeno Karl Schindler Foundation, and various generous individuals.  Those responsible for producing the digital materials and formatting them for online use include Andrew Tremlett, David Cowling, Liz Waller, Stephen Taylor, Judy Burg, Richard Higgins, Richard Gameson, Geoff Watson, Liz Branigan, Olli Lyytinen, Frank Addison, Robin Brownlee-Sayers, Caroline Craggs, and Gizella Dewath.   There is a blog which explores various aspects of the digitalization project.