Wednesday, May 20, 2020

An Uncial of Luke 5-6 at Mount Sinai

          At the Sinai Palimpsests Project website, part of one of the manuscripts included among the New Finds collection – Greek N.F. M 98 – has lower writing that consists of a folio from a Greek uncial, preserving text in four columns (two columns per page, probably 26 lines per column) from Luke 5:33-34, 5:36-37, 5:39-6:1, and 6:3-4.  Dr. Giuglielmo Cavallo – author of the first chapter in the superb little 2008 book, The Shape of the Book – identified and analyzed this text a while ago, and assigned it a production-date around 1000.  It has received an official Nestle-Aland identification number:  0288.  Let’s take a closer look at its text, which is on the first page (front and back) of the manuscript.
          In its four columns of text, compared to the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform, this witness has two variants:  in Luke 5:33, we encounter ποικνα instead of πυκνα, and after ομοιως we meet δε και instead of just και.  Other than these two readings, the text is perfectly Byzantine, agreeing with the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform.  This witness disagrees with the Nestle-Aland compilation at almost every opportunity:

In the lower writing of Greek N.F. M 98: 
● 5:34 – Ις (before ειπεν) is not included
● 5:36 – απο (after επίβλημα is not included
● 5:36 – σχίσας (after καινου) is not included [Not noted in NA27 apparatus]
● 5:36 – σκιζει (instead of σκισει in À B C L)  [Not noted in NA27 apparatus]  
● 5:36 – συμφωνει (instead of συμφωνήσει) [Not noted in NA27 apparatus]
● 5:36 – το επίβλημα before απο is is not included
● 5:39 – και is at the beginning of the verse [bracketed in NA27]
● 5:39 – ευθεως appears after παλαιον
● 5:39 – χρηστότερος instead of χρηστός
● 6:1 – δευτεροπρώτω is present
● 6:1 – των is present before σπορίμων
● 6:3 – οποτε instead of οτε
● 6:3 – οντες appears at the end of the verse [bracketed in NA27]
● 6:4 – ως is at the beginning of the verse [bracketed in NA27]
● 6:4 – ελαβεν και instead of λαβων

Reconstruction of the lower writing in Greek N.F. M 98.
           Here is a reproduction of the text of Luke in Greek N.F. M 98, with the upper writing removed.  Twice, the copyist appears to have used a kai-compendium or dwarf letters, but the writing at both points was obscured by the upper writing.  (This is signified in the reproduction by the light red squares.)          
Before presenting a transcription of the text, here are some thoughts about some textual contests that could be considered if one were defending the Byzantine readings found in Greek N.F. M 98.

● 5:34 – Ις in the Alexandrian Text could be introduced for the sake of clarity, or as a remembrance of 5:31.
● 5:36 – απο and σχίσας could be added for the sake of clarity.
● 5:36 – συμφωνει could be altered to συμφωνήσει as part of an expansion which also involved the addition of το επίβλημα before απο.
● 5:38 – In Greek N.F. M 98, space-considerations seem to favor the inclusion of και αμφότεροι συντηρουνται at the end of the verse.
● 5:39 – A copyist might excise και as an attempt at stylistic improvement.  (The entire verse is absent in Codex D and several Old Latin witnesses.)
● 5:39 – χρηστότερος can account for χρηστός with a simple parableptic error.
● 6:1 – δευτεροπρώτω is certainly the more difficult reading.
● 6:3 – οποτε can account for οτε with a simple parableptic error.
● 6:4 – The support for nothing before εισηλθων at the beginning of the verse is sparse.
● 6:4 – Part of the Alexandrian line seems harmonized to Mark 2:26.

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


  1. This has a Gregory-Aland number. It is 0288 in the Kurzgefasste Liste.

  2. Greg,
    Thanks; I'll edit the post to reflect this! When did that happen?

  3. In Bericht der Hermann Kunst-Stiftung zur Förderung der Neutestamentlichen Textforschung für die Jahre 1985 bis 1987 (1988), see pages 55-56 for the Sinai new finds.
    Download it here: