“All Scripture is breathed out by God.” That statement is not only the introductory phrase of Second Timothy 3:16 in the English Standard Version; it is also an affirmation in the introduction of the
Reader’s Gospels (in more traditional wording): “All Scripture is inspired by God.” At the ESVBible website, a brief essay
teaches that “As the Bible is the
inspired word of God, presenting us with God’s words as mediated through human
language, it is likewise and .”
ESV’s preface was intended to give readers
the impression that the ESV is a direct descendant of the KJV: the ESV, the writer claims, “stands in the
classic mainstream of English Bible translations,” and continues “the
Tyndale-King James legacy,” and so forth. However, those
who read the section of the preface sub-titled Textual Basis and Resources will find a statement that the ESV New Testament is based on the fourth edition of the United
Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament and on the 27th edition of the
Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece
– which is another way of saying that the ESV New Testament was translated from a
base-text that is very similar to the compilation produced by Westcott and Hort
in 1881 – a compilation which thoroughly replaced the primarily Byzantine
base-text of the KJV New Testament with primarily Alexandrian readings, resulting in over 5,000 changes.
In Matthew 1:7-10, there is a contest between Ασα (Asa) and Ασαφ (Asaph), and between Αμων (Amon) and Αμως (Amos). The compilers of the
and NA-texts, like Hort, rejected the readings that are found in the vast majority
of manuscripts (and in diverse early witnesses including Codex Washingtoniensis, Old Latin Codex Vercellensis, the Vulgate, the Sinaitic Syriac, and the Peshitta), and adopted the Alexandrian readings Ασαφ and Αμως, thus conveying errors, inasmuch
as Asaph was a songwriter (the author of several psalms) and Amos was a prophet
who prophesied in the time of Uzziah. (Uzziah
is mentioned in the genealogy in Matthew 1:8-9). Neither Asaph nor Amos was an ancestor of
|Codex K (Cyprianus) displays the Byzantine reading.
In 1:7, note the interesting proximity of Ασα
to the letters σαφ in the next line.
However, there is no evidence for the use of such a hypothetical genealogical list in the hands of the evangelist; meanwhile the evidence for Matthew’s familiarity with the Old Testament permeates his Gospel-account. In addition, considering that Matthew knew the Old Testament and treated it as authoritative, which source is he more likely to have favored when they disagreed: the Old Testament text, or some “subsequent genealogical list” (assuming that he ever had one)?
Before I offer an explanation of the origin of the Alexandrian reading, it may be appropriate to point out the diverse name-spellings found in the flagship manuscripts of the Alexandrian Text in Matthew 1:1-13:
1:2 – ﬡ (Sinaiticus) reads Ισακ instead of Ισαακ.
1:3 – B (Vaticanus) reads Ζαρε instead of Ζαρα.
1:4 – ﬡ reads Αμιναδαβ correctly the first time the name is written, but Αμιναδαμ the second time.
1:5 – B, ﬡ, and P1 read Βοες against diverse opposition favoring Βοοζ. (Nevertheless the
1:5 – B and ﬡ and some Alexandrian allies read Ιωβηδ instead of Ωβηδ. (33: Ιωβηλ.)
1:6 – ﬡ* reads Σαλομων instead of Σολομωνα.
1:6 – B reads Ουρειου instead of Ουριου.
1:7 – ﬡ reads Αβια, Αβιας instead of Αβια, Αβια.
1:8 – B and ﬡ read Οζειαν instead of Οζιαν.
1:9 – ﬡ reads Αχας, Αχας instead of Αχαζ, Αχαζ.
1:10-11 – B and ﬡ read Ιωσειαν, Ιωσειας instead of Ιωσιαν, Ιωσιας.
1:12-13 – B reads Σελαθιηλ instead of Σαλαθιηλ, in addition to reading γεννα instead of εγεννησεν three times.
(Except for the readings in 1:5, these readings disagree with both the
UBS/NA compilation and with the
RP2005 Byzantine Text. This shows a high level of variation in the spelling of proper names in the Alexandrian text-stream.)
Several Old Latin manuscripts agree with the Alexandrian text’s readings for Asaph and Amos. While, on one hand, this gives the reading some diversity, on the other hand it may indicate that at these points the primary Alexandrian witnesses ﬡ, B, and P1 reflect an early Western intrusion.
In 1885, J. Rendel Harris proposed that the reading Ασαφ, Ασαφ originated as the result of a “ghastly line-errors,” that is, Ασαφ was accidentally written when a copyist’s line of sight drifted to the letters σαφ in the nearby word Ιωσαφατ. He suggested that the same phenomenon can account for the origin of the reading Αμως, Αμως – the copyist’s line of sight straying, in this case, to the letters ωσ in the nearby word Ιωσειαν. Harris concluded, “It can hardly be accidental that this coincidence of letters is found in the proper names. And this simple paleographic explanation being given, is not to be shaken by an array of excellent
MSS in which
the archaic error may be preserved.”
(The same sort of syllable-interchange may account for ﬡ’s reading Σαλομων in verse 6, echoing the Σαλ from Σαλμων’s name in verse 5.)
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