Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Luke 11:33 - Don't Put Your Light Under a Bushel

            When someone asks, “What’s a text-critically interesting verse in the Gospels?” the typical answer is not likely to be “Luke 11:33.”  The differences between the meanings of the rival variants in this verse are not very consequential:  basically, some manuscripts have the phrase, οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον, that is, “or under a bushel-basket,” and some do not; also, near the end of the verse, in some Greek manuscripts the Greek word rendered “light” in English is φῶς, while in other manuscripts, it is φέγγος. 
            Yet it is probably safe to say that Luke 11:33 is a strong contender for the title “Verse Most Likely to Be Changed from One Critical Edition to Another.”  Here is how some recent Greek compilations have treated Luke 11:33:
            ● Nestle-Aland NTG 27:  brackets οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον and adopts φῶς.
            ● Robinson-Pierpont 2005:  includes οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον and adopts φέγγος.
            ● SBLGNT 2011:  includes οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον and adopts φέγγος.
            ● Tyndale House GNT 2017:  does not include οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον and adopts φῶς.      
            The vast majority of Greek manuscripts, including the two flagship representatives of the Alexandrian Text, Vaticanus (B) and Sinaiticus (ℵ), and the best Greek representative of the Western Text, Codex D, support the inclusion of οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον.  Exploring the evidence more closely, we see that ℵ A B C D K M W X Δ Θ Π Ψ and the Curetonian Syriac, the Peshitta, the Bohairic, and all Latin witnesses, are allies of the Byzantine Text; they all support the inclusion of οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον.  (The Gothic version, alas, is not extant for this part of Luke.)
Luke 11:33: at the end of col. 1
and the start of col. 2.
The main witnesses for non-inclusion are Papyrus 45, Papyrus 75, L (019), Γ (036), Ξ (040), 070 (Greek-Coptic), 700*, 1241, family 1, 69, 118, and 788, and the Sinaitic Syriac, the Sahidic version, and the Armenian and Georgian versions.  While this array of witnesses may appear negligible in terms of quantity when set alongside the mountains of witnesses which favor the other reading, the age and diversity of its members are interesting:  P45 and P75 are the earliest manuscripts of this part of Luke, and the Alexandrian (P75, L, Sahidic), Western (Sinaitic Syriac) and Caesarean (f1, Armenian) forms of the text are represented.                 
            Let’s examine the text nearby in search of similar arrays of variants supporting shorter readings.   

(1)  In Luke 11:11, P45, P75, and B, 1241, and the Armenian version, along with the Sinaitic Syriac, support the non-inclusion of ἄρτον μὴ λίθον ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ; ἣ καὶ ἰχθύν, which has very abundant support, with some slight variations, in A C D (which, with 124, adds αἰτήσει after ἰχθύν) F G Y K M U W X Γ Δ Θ Λ Π Ψ f1 f13 1 1582* 1424 (in ℵ, L, 28, 157, and 700, ἄρτον μὴ λίθον ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ; ἣ ἰχθύν, lacking the καὶ) – “bread, will he give to him a stone? And if a fish.” 
            The minuscules 69 and 788 (along with 565) do not include the second part of the verse, that is, they have ἄρτον μὴ λίθον ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ but not the rest of the verse, as if they echo an ancestor-manuscript in which the copyist’s line of sight drifted from this occurrence of ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ to the recurrence of the same words at the end of the verse, skipping the words in between.
            Upon comparing the witnesses for the main shorter reading in 11:11 and 11:33, we see that several of them are the same:  P45, P75, 1241, Sinaitic Syriac, Sahidic, Armenian.  And a couple of witnesses for the other shorter reading in 11:33 (69 788) also support the shorter reading in 11:33.
            It should not be overlooked that 157 omits all of 11:12, and 579 omits everything before μὴ.  Also in 11:12, where the normal reading is ᾠόν (egg), P45 reads ἄρτον (bread).

(2)  In Luke 11:14, P45 P75 ℵ B A* L 1 33 157 788 1241 1582* Sinaitic Syriac and the Armenian version are among the group of witnesses that support the non-inclusion of καὶ αὐτὸ ἧν (and it was).

(3)  In Luke 11:44, P45 P75 ℵ B C L 33 f1 157 579 and the Sinaitic Syriac, Curetonian Syriac, and the Armenian, Georgian, and Sahidic versions do not include γραμματεις καὶ Φαρισαιοι, υποκριταί (Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites).  Most manuscripts (such as A K M Γ Δ Θ Π Ψ 69 157 565 579 700 788) include the words, but D omits υποκριταί.

(4)  At the end of Luke 11:48, P75 ℵ B D L 579 do not include αυτων τα μνημεια (“their tombs”).  Family 1 and 157 read instead τους τάφους αυτων.  (P45 is not extant for this verse.)

(5)  In Luke 11:53:
            P75 reads Κακειθεν εξελθόντες αυτου
            ℵ B C L 33 69 579 788 1241 read Κακειθεν εξελθόντος αυτου
            P45 reads Κακειθεν εξελθόντος (apparently without αυτου); Willker mentions that the manuscript is damaged but space-considerations rule out the inclusion of αυτου.
            A K M Π W Γ Δ Ψ f1 565 read Λέγοντος δε ταυτα προς αυτους, which is supported by most manuscripts. 
            D Θ 157 agree with A but continue with ενωπιον παντος του λαου; this reading has considerable Old Latin and Armenian support; especially interesting is that this reading is also supported by the Curetonian Syriac and the Sinaitic Syriac. 
            Meanwhile 69 and 788 simply read Και before ηρξαντο.

(6) and (7)  In Luke 11:54:
            P45 P75 B L f1 579, with Coptic support, begin the verse with ενεδρεύοντες αυτον before θηρευσαι.
            ℵ begins the verse with ενεδρεύοντες before θηρευσαι.
            Most manuscripts, including C K Π M  f1 157 565 700, with support from the Vulgate and the Peshitta, read ενεδρεύοντες αυτον ζητουντες at the beginning of the verse, and read ινα κατηγορήσωσιν αυτου at the end of the verse.  A W* Δ f13 differ only slightly at the end of the verse, reading ινα κατηγορήσουσιν αυτου. 
            D’s text is quite different:  ζητουντες αφορην τινα λαβειν αυτου ινα ευρωσιν κατηγορησαι αυτου.  This is supported by the Sinaitic Syriac and Curetonian Syriac, and is imperfectly supported by the Old Latin.
            Θ reads ενεδρεύοντες before τι θηρευσαι at the beginning of the verse; it agrees with most manuscripts at the end of the verse.

            Without attempting to offer a full analysis of all seven of these textual contests here, I offer brief explanations vindicating the longer reading in six cases:

(1)  In Luke 11:11, the shorter reading originated when a copyist skipped a line of text but nevertheless produced a coherent sentence; the reading of P45 in verse 12 (ἄρτον instead of ᾠόν) is a vestige of the scribe’s recollection of the original longer reading.  Harmonization to Matthew 7:9 was limited to the addition of αυτου after υιος mainly in Caesarean witnesses.

(2)  In Luke 11:14, the shorter reading in P45 P75 ℵ B 1241 et al is a slight stylistic refinement; as Metzger noted, καὶ αὐτὸ ἧν  κωφόν “appears to be a Semitism in the Lukan style.  The chance seems low that a scribe would sense a need to shift from “He was casting out a dumb demon” to “He was casting out a demon and it was dumb,” and happen to fit Lukan style.  

(3)  In Luke 11:44, the shorter rreading – that is, the removal of the explicit identification of the scribes and Pharisees – originated when a scribe wondered why the lawyers would feel that they were being criticized by a rebuke specifically aimed at others. 

(4)  At the end of Luke 11:48, the Byzantine reading makes explicit what is implied without an object.  Family 1 and family 13 do likewise, but their wording is different.  The shorter reading here is original. 

(5)  In Luke 11:53, the Alexandrian Text has non-Lukan wording; κακειθεν appears only here in Luke, and εξελθόντος appears elsewhere in Luke only in 11:14 (contested by εκβληθέντος in A C L f13 69) where a demon’s departure is being described.  Willker suggests that the Byzantine reading was introduced because it avoids raising the question of where was the “there;” the exact location being unmentioned in the lection that begins at 11:47.  However, the Byzantine reading raises a question of its own, that is, who is the “them” – for at 11:46, Jesus begins criticizing not the scribes and Pharisees, but the specialists in the Law.  The Alexandrian way around this problem was to rewrite the introductory phrase, which happens to correspond to the beginning of Mark 9:30.
            The Western Text’s inclusion of ενωπιον παντος του λαου echoes Luke 8:47; this reading must be extremely early (as demonstrated by support from the Sinaitic Syriac and Old Latin Codex Vercellensis), and shows that some copyists had a tendency to expand later parts of the Gospel with verbiage taken from earlier parts.     
(6)  In Luke 11:54a:  the shorter reading originated when an early copyist’s line of sight drifted from the letters –οντες in ενεδρεύοντες to the same letters in ζητουντες.  In most copies descended from the exemplar that contained this mistake, it is partly corrected (via the addition of αυτον – but 28 and 1424 read instead αυτω) but not in ℵ and Θ.

(7)  In Luke 11:54b, the shorter reading originated when an early copyist’s line of sight drifted from the αυτου after στόματος to the same word after κατηγορήσωσιν, accidentally skipping the words in between.
            The inclusion of ευρωσιν in D’s text here is interesting; D thus echoes (albeit inexactly) the end of Luke 6:7.  This again illustrates some scribe’s tendency to expand later parts of a book by introducing elements they had encountered in earlier parts.

Luke 11:33 in GA 1241.
Having reviewed the above seven textual contests, and  having seen that in six out of the seven, the longer reading is reasonably defensible, we return now to Luke 11:33.  This is Luke’s record of a saying of Jesus very similar to the one in Matthew 5:15, where the μόδιον is mentioned; a closer parallel, however, is in Luke 8:16, where the reference is to hiding the lamp under a σκεύει (“vessel”), rather than a μόδιον (bushel-basket).  In 28 there is a clear attempt to conform 11:33 to Luke 8:16; minuscule 28 reads καλυπτει αυτον σκεύει η before εις κρύπτον.  In 579, the text is conformed to Matthew 5:15 toward the end, reading και λάμπει πασιν τοις εν τη οικια.  And in 118 f13 69 788, at the end of the verse, the words are transposed so as to correspond to the end of Luke 8:16.   
            In short, except for minuscule 28, the harmonizations that appear in Luke 11:33 look like they have been based on Luke 8:16, not Matthew 5:15.  If a copyist were to introduce “under the bushel-basket” into a form of Luke 11:33 that did not have the phrase, the natural place to put it would be before the reference to putting the lamp in a secret place, thus corresponding to the gist of Mark 4:21 and the gist of Luke 8:16; I mean that in both Mark 4:21 and Luke 8:16, the reference to the lamp being covered precedes whatever else is said.
            If οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον is not a partial harmonization to Matthew 5:15, it is original – in which case, how does one account for its absence in P45 P75 L 788 et al, while also accounting for its presence in ℵ B A C D K Π W?  There are two factors which do this:  (1)  Scribes’ recollection of Luke 8:16, in which τίθησιν is followed immediately by αλλ’ επι λυχνίας.  (2)  A simple homoioteleuton error.  Single-letter homoioteleuton is rare but it does sometimes happen:  all that is needed for οὐδὲ ὑπὸ τὸν μόδιον to disappear is for a scribe’s line of sight to drift from the ν at the end of τιθησιν to the ν at the end of μόδιον.  Adding to the ease of such an occurrence is that the scribe would have written τίθησιν αλλ’ επι λυχνίας  (or, τίθησιν αλλ’ επι λυχνίαν) a few chapters earlier.  

            There is still the other variant-unit in Luke 11:33 to consider:  φως or φέγγος?  Φως looks like a harmonization to Luke 8:16, especially in 118 f13 69 788.  Φέγγος is the rarer word, and considering the presence of φως in the parallel-passages, there would be little impetus to replace φως with φέγγος; meanwhile familiarity with Luke 8:16 would tend to elicit a harmonization from φέγγος to φως.  The reading of P45, φέγγος, should be adopted.  Here we have an ancient reading which is not Alexandrian (for P75 ℵ B 33 read φως) nor Western (for D also reads φως) nor Caesarean (for freads φως and f13 also reads φως, transposed).  The Byzantine Text, and the Byzantine Text alone (but with support from the back-up team of L, Γ, 124, 565 and 700), besides the usual Byzantine witnesses Α Κ Μ W Δ Λ Π etc,, displays the original reading here, defying the theory that it is merely an amalgamation of the other text-forms, and supporting the theory that the Byzantine Text contains a stratum of ancient and independent readings. 

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


Matthew M. Rose said...

Hi James, you state "Single-letter homoioteleuton is rare but it does sometimes happen".

I would agree that it is rarely pointed out or asserted, but I don't believe that the single-letter variety (HT) are indeed that "rare" in comparison to other types of scribal error. They are definitely less common than the two or three letter type (HT) and I can understand why one wouldn't press too hard in affirming a possible/probable instance (I use to actually mark all of them with a "?" unless they were singular readings).

My intent therefore is not to disagree with you, indeed they are rare relatively speaking,--And yet I've found hundreds of them and would estimate that they make up approx. 10-15% (+or-) of all errors in general...and so, they may not be quite as rare as was once thought.

The White Man said...

It's actually not a bushel, but that is a matter of translation, not textual criticism.