Wednesday, August 14, 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.]



Richard Fellows said...

James, I am wondering whether misogyny explains more than just the alteration of the female pronoun to the male at John 11:1,5 and the creation of the male pronoun at 11:3. The words "Μαρθασ τησ αδελφησ αυτησ" at 11:1 suggest that Martha's most important sibling was Mary, not Lazarus. Against the usual practice, Martha is being defined here relative to a female family member, rather than a male. Copyists wanting to correct this could change the pronoun to αυτου, to that it referred to Lazarus, but that is a little awkward, since the mention of Lazarus is quite far back, with Mary intervening. So copyists might decide to just eliminate Martha and this would give the text of A*. You say that the scribe of A made a parableptic error but there are only two letters ια that repeat. Are there many other examples of parablepses in A with only two letters for the scribe's eye to latch onto?

If an early variant of John 11:1 without Martha was created, this might explain the singular subjects and verbs in variants at 11:3. It would be awkward to write "so the sisters sent a message" when no second sister has been mentioned up to this point. Copyists might correct this by creating the variants that Elizabeth Schrader lists.

As well as the male pronoun introduced by copyists at 11:5, we also have the change in name order. This is reminiscent of the way D reverses Priscilla and Aquila at Acts 18:26; P46 reverses Julia and Nereus at Rom 16:15, D reverse women and men at Acts 17:12, P46 avoids stating that a woman was in Christ before Paul. They really did not like women taking precedence over men, and the name order reversal at 11:5 is another example of that. Only Mary the mother of Jesus was immune to such attacks by the copyists.

So I think that Schrader is right that there is a "themed cluster" of variants in John 11:1-5 that are too numerous to be explained by scribal slips. I just think the theme is the well attested sexism of the copyists (or their instructors) from the second century, rather than Schrader's complicated scenario.

She is also right, I think, in her identification of two early texts of John 11:1-5 that could explain all the subsequent variants. I just disagree with her about which of those two was the original (and of course I am not insisting that all the sexism has to go back to the same manuscript.

Timothy Joseph said...

Well done. Your thoroughness and explanations of the relevant data confirm what TC scholars have argued over and over, the most likely explanation of a variant(s) is to be preferred. This is why in most cases Ehrman’s ‘The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture’ has not held sway. The tendency to read back into history the issues of today, every mistake relating to gender is misogyny, is rampant among academics. Again, well done!


Richard Fellows said...

Tim, how are we to tell whether there was a scribal tendency to diminish the standing of women? If a copyist made a misogynist lie, and disguised it as a scribal slip (in case he was called on it), how would we know? The only way to tell is to do a statistical analysis. From the data that I have independently collected there is indeed a statistically compelling tendency. The prominent female Jesus-followers in the NT are indeed disproportionately put down by textual variants, compared to their male counterparts. Are you aware of any studies that conclude the opposite?

A major problem is that NT scholars are generally very weak on statistics and probability. I would like to see more statistical analyses from those on both sides of the debate.

James Snapp Jr said...

Richard Fellows,

Random factors other than chauvinism that could account for the change from AUTHS to AUTOU at the end of Jn 11:1, but the thing to see is that the support for AUTHS is excellent in every way. Schrader consistently gets this textual contest perfectly backwards, proposing that AUTOU was changed to AUTHS.

<< Copyists might decide to just eliminate Martha and this would give the text of A*. >>

Think about what you are saying. A's reading is fully explained as a scribal lapse, cleverly corrected, as I already explained. Why would any copyist, aware of Martha's role in the pericope, deliberately eliminate her from the narrative in v. 1 for the sake of a little nuance? /No one deliberately did so,/ for A's reading is a mistake, and 157's reading is also a mistake (h.t.)

<< You say that the scribe of A made a parableptic error but there are only two letters ια that repeat. >>

And that is a problem why?? Skipping from one two-letter set to another is not particularly rare.

<< Are there many other examples of parablepses in A with only two letters for the scribe's eye to latch onto? >>

I have not made a close study of h.t.-errors in Codex A, but my instinctive answer is "Yes." The repetition of two letters at the ends of consecutive words, phrases, or lines is enough to elicit parableptic error.

<< If an early variant of John 11:1 without Martha was created, this might explain the singular subjects and verbs in variants at 11:3. >>

The key consideration is not what *could* happen, but what *did* happen. There is no evidence that the phrase "and Martha" in John 11:1 ever flickered in Greek transmission, apart from the occurrence of unconnected scribal errors.

<< As well as the male pronoun introduced by copyists at 11:5, we also have the change in name order. >>

And there in 11:5 we are not dealing with mere slips, but conscious adjustments. Those adjustments, however, involve Martha before they are made, and afterwards. They do not imply some lost exemplar without Martha in the narrative at all, which is what Schrader is proposing.

<< I think that Schrader is right that there is a "themed cluster" of variants in John 11:1-5 that are too numerous to be explained by scribal slips. >>

Who did not already think so? The Western text is a bit chauvinistic. Is this news?

<< She is also right, I think, in her identification of two early texts of John 11:1-5 that could explain all the subsequent variants. >>

Not to seem blunt, but, sober up. Schrader has imaginatively misread the data, especially the scribal mistakes in P66. And her theory involves not only the variant-units in John 11:1-5 but also requires massive corruption across all transmission-streams every time Martha is mentioned throughout John 11.

Richard Fellows said...

Hi James. You make some good points, but our views are already a lot closer than you suppose. Just to be clear, I have never been persuaded that the generally accepted text of John 11 is wrong.

The explanation of what we see in P66 and A could be a lot simpler than the scenario that you present in your post. For P66 the sequence could have been as follows:
1. Martha was changed to Mary by accident so that the text read "Mary and Mary her sister".
2. This created a problem for the copyist or for a later copyists. It might have seemed strange to have two sisters with the same name. Therefore "her" was changed to "his".
3. With only one sister now standing in 11:1 this created a problem for 11:3 where sisters are mentioned. Thus a copyist replaced sisters with Mary.
4. At some point a copyist may have felt that the famous Mary of 11:2 should be the first of the two Marys who stood in the text at 1:1. Therefore the copyist changed 11:2 to clarify that this Mary (as well as the second Mary of 1:1) was sister to Lazarus. Is there a simpler explanation of the changes at 11:2?
5. Finally a corrector corrected 11:1,2,3 to make it conform to the original text.

For A we have a possibly accidental omission of Martha followed by the pronoun change.

Thus I now see that it is not necessary to suppose sexism in these verses, and the simplicity of this kind of sequence supports your basic approach. However I think it would be useful if someone could calculate the expected frequency of the initial scribal slips that we are hypothesizing.

Thanks for your explanation of the name reversals at 11:5. I agree with you for now, unless anyone (Tim?) has another explanation.

Matthew M. Rose said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matthew M. Rose said...

Considering that Dr. Wasserman has disallowed any further comments on the ETC blog, I will post this information here.

E. SCHRADER writes; "Hello Mr. Rose - if you can provide evidence of any other major named Biblical character who drops in and out of basically every verse where they are supposed to appear depending on the manuscript, in any pericope of substance (let's say named at least three times), then you have a reasonable argument...In other words: provide a comparable control study showing that it is a banal phenomenon for major named characters to drop in and out of their pericopes, and you will have proven your point."

I may have found something pertinent on this point. Unfortunately finding a pericope within the NT Text which contains two different individuals with nearly identical names is not such an easy task. Nor is it a commonality for nearly identical proper names to be paired side by side or stationed in close proximity to one another time and time again.

...And then there's the sixth chapter of Mark's Gospel. The well know story of the beheading of the forerunner of our Lord, John the Baptist. Herod and Herodias will now take center stage. Although this pericope lacks the surplus of scribal dangers mentioned above and demonstrated within the 59 verse section of John we have to do with. It still presents a viable example for comparison.

Herod is mentioned in: Mark 6:14,16, 17,18,20,21,22 (7 in total)

Herodias in; Mark 6:17,19 & 22 (3 in total)

Besides this, one must take into account that these names are not only "one" letter apart as with the Mary-Martha situation (in some instances). Nor are they paired together twice, nor are they located within close proximity of each other (generally speaking).

So off we go...

Mark 6:14, here we have an instance of transposition. HPWDHC O BACI/\EYC -for the common reading- O BACI/\EYC HPWDHC. The transposition is present in C-cor D F 565 700 (Further inquiry may provide an instance of ...EYC ...HC in this location.)

Mark 6:16, Herod is omitted in this verse by 733 891 & 2207. The cause of omission is HT of a larger block of Text. vs.15 THC ECTIN.. ...ECTIN AYTOC vs.16.

Mark 6:17, Herod is again omitted due to an act of scribal error (HT) in ms. 851 vs.16 npwdns..... ..npwdns vs.17.

Mark 6:17, Herodias, in her first appearance carries the confusion of three different spelling variations. The common Hpwdiada, the less common Hpwdiaida in 33 & 579 and the singular(?) Pwdiada in cod.K.

Mark 6:17, codex B* omits the important phrase THN ГYNAIKA (the wife) as where codex D omits the equally important TOY ADE/\QOY (his brother). Both probably due to HT (A..A & OY...OY)

Mark 6:18, Herod is omitted by ms.33.
This very same ms. also omits tnv yuvaika & tou adelphou (the wife of thy brother) within a larger omission as mentioned below. The former clause also suffers from transposition in W & f1.

Mark 6:19 Herodias is omitted by ms.33 probably by parablepsis. vs.18 autnv....autw vs.19. Herodias is also transposed in P45 (Hpwdias dE instead of dE Hpwdias) and codex K again gives us yet another spelling variation HPWDHAC.

Mark 6:20, nothing found here.

Mark 6:21, Herod is omitted by ms.61

Mark 6:22, Herod is interpolated in place of BACI/\EYC in P45*. Basileus has subsequently been restored to it's proper place in P45c. (This verse presents an opportunity for deletion via homoioarcton. Hpwdiados being only 20-25 units away from Hpwdn. A more thoughough manuscript search may produce an example.)

Sources; Swanson, Text und Textwert and Legg.

In addition there are several instances where other important phrases and/or bits of information are either omitted or interpolated. These are readily visible in Swanson therefore I chose to only list a few.

Conclusion; The above evidence leads me to believe that more omissions and oddities would be found if a greater pool of manuscripts were collated in each respective location. As for now I am convinced that this answers the above proposal.

oupavios said...

If I'm not too late to the party, I have a question for anyone who can answer it. In verse 3, απεστιλεν and λεγουσα are said to have been changed from singulars to plurals. Now having no expertise in Textual Criticism it's probably just me, but I can't see why we're sure that this is what happened. Now it's clear enough that the plural απεστιλαν was changed from something else. However, given the way in which the scribe writes his epsilons, it doesn't seem clear at all that an epsilon was ever part of the ending. With regard to λεγουσαι, I can't see any clear evidence that the iota was added after the fact. Could someone help me see what I'm apparently not seeing? Thanks!

Richard Fellows said...

Oupavios, in P66* we have a single named sister instead of the sisters in John 11:3. Therefore it makes sense that the verbs were singular. I think I can see a partially erased epsilon beneath the alpha in απεστιλαν. There is certainly something going on there. Do you have an alternative explanation?

oupavios said...

Richard, I agree with your logic. If the scribe wrote the name of a woman singularly, then it only follows that he would have used singular verbs. Thus, in regards to απεστιλεν, since it was written before the subject which the scribe was anticipating being singular, then it follows logically that the singular απεστιλεν was the original reading. My only question is, aside from the logic coupled with the fact that an obvious correction was made, how do we know the exact nature of the change? Now if you can see a partially erased epsilon, and the consensus among textual critics is that an epsilon was there because they see it too, then the problem obviously lies with me. I was just hoping someone could point out what I'm having difficulty seeing.

Now in terms of the accepted theory that the singular λεγουσα was changed to a plural, I'm wondering if textual critics base this belief solely on the inference drawn from the fact that the scribe had heretofore, written singulars. As you said, "it makes sense that the verbs were singular." But nothing in the manuscript optically suggests to me that a "change" was made. The word itself stands at the end of a line. And changing λεγουσα from singular to plural is a simple matter of adding an iota. So unless we can be absolutely certain that the scribe wrote λεγουσα before realizing his mistakes, it would seem difficult to say with certainty that λεγουσαι wasn't the original reading. Again, unless there's something I'm just not seeing.

oupavios said...

Richard, I thought this might be worth mentioning. As I said in my previous post, I think it's difficult to say with certainty that an iota was added to λεγουσα after the fact in order to make it plural. Gordon Fee might agree. In a paper entitled "The Corrections of Papyrus Bodmer II and Early Textual Transmission," Fee states:

“I submit that the original reading of the verb was the singular απεστειλεν… Thus the original subject had a singular verb…(The final ι of the following participle λεγοuσαι could very easily be a part of this change as well).”

So Fee seems to think that the iota may or may not have been a later change.

Also, in the same paper, Fee argues that most of the changes in P66, if not due to a scribal laps, were made for no other purpose but to smooth out the Greek. He states on page 10:

“A close look at the readings of P66c, irrespective of what other MSS have the same reading, seems strongly to suggest one principle of choice: in almost every instance, the reading of P66c is smoother or more intelligible Greek. The scribe of P66, in contrast to the scribe of P75, was not bent on preserving the “best” text, in the sense of what “John” actually wrote, but the “best” text, in the sense of what reading makes the most sense."

On page 11 he continues:

“This conclusion as to the manner of correction in P66 serves to underscore a conclusion made previously by Birdsall as a result of his grammatical and stylistic analysis of the entire text: “…we may conclude then that the papyrus…displays a marked tendency to smooth over certain harshnesses in the original text” [P.11]

Thus, it appears that Fee would consider Schrader's musings regarding P66 to be speculation gone off the rails. I'm inclined to agree.

Lydia McGrew said...

It seems that Schrader's thesis would also require the entirety of 11:28-33 to be a scribal interpolation. In those verses, one sister (whatever her name) goes to call a different, second sister (whatever her name), friends have been sitting in the house with the second sister and rise up to follow her out to the tomb. When the second sister meets Jesus she says the same thing that the first sister said back in vs. 21, but Jesus answers differently from the answer he gave to the first sister. As far as I can tell, that entire set of sub-incidents, which depends crucially on there being two sisters, would have to be invented if there was originally only one sister. But as far as I know, Schrader has not brought *textual* evidence that verses 28-33 were originally not there and were invented by a scribe.

Also (though here I may have missed a claim by Schrader) I haven't seen her allege that "Martha" is added instead of "Mary" in some real manuscript that we possess in vs. 39, objecting that by this time the body is stinking.

The artwork argument is...pretty ludicrous.

James Snapp Jr said...


Your reasoning is sound.


Trail_dude said...

With respect to the question of the repetition of two letters at the ends of consecutive words, phrases, or lines being enough to result in parableptic error, I just wanted to weigh in with a different example: in several Greek readings classes we were required to hand-copy the Greek text; the subject matter ranged from Xenophon to Aristotle to Mark's Gospel. If my notebooks weren't in storage I could pull them out and give specific examples; without them at hand I can just say that in my hand-copying as well as that of fellow students two letters were definitely enough to led to this kind of error. Assuming that twentieth-century Greek students were at least as diligent as ancient scribes, this is sufficient for me to accept that some ancient scribes made the same errors. And in fact one professor had us hand copying for the very reason of demonstrating that even copyists determined to make no errors would still make errors! (That same professor did dictation exercises that not surprisingly led to illustrating other scribal errors.)
As I recall, the problem was made worse when we were copying from continuous text.