Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Mark 13:14 - Who Said What?

          "But when ye see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not (let him that readeth understand), then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains."  Thus read the words of Jesus in Mark 13:14 in the Revised Version (1881). But in the KJV, NKJV, EOB-NT, MEV, and WEB, the verse is a bit longer:  before the word "then" is the phrase, "spoken of by Daniel the prophet," based on the words τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου, which appears in the Textus Receptus and in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts (including A K M U Y Γ Δ Θ Π 157), as well as in the Peshitta, the Harklean Syriac, and six Old Latin copies (aur, c, e, k, l, q).   

          The basis for "spoken of by Daniel the prophet" is not supported by À (Sinaiticus) B D L W Ψ and  565 700 892.  Nor are the words found in the Old Latin copies d, ff2, i, n, and r1,  or the Vulgate (though the phrase is included in some copies of the Vulgate), or in the Sahidic version, the Armenian version, and the Old Georgian version (according to Wieland Willker, who covered this variant-unit in his Textual Commentary on the Gospels).

Codex Macedonianus (Y/034), shown here,
includes the words in Mark 13:14 that are
not included in the Alexandrian Text
    Neither the UBS Greek New Testament (4th edition) nor the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (27th edition) mention this six-word variant.  That's right:  a six-word Byzantine variant goes entirely uncovered in the GNT and NTG, as if it never existed.

          What has happened here in Mark 13:14?  The editors of the Greek New Testament apparently felt that the Byzantine reading is a harmonization to Matthew 24:15.  The phrase in Matthew is similar; Matthew 24:15 has διὰ instead of ὑπὸ.  Some members of f1 read διὰ, and so do 28 579 and 1424.  It seems to me the theory that a harmonizer added τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου is not very tenable, partly because a harmonizer would be unlikely to be so picky as to change διὰ into ὑπὸ.

          But how can the omission of τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου be explained, especially considering that it missing not only in the Alexandrian?  Therein lies a tale:

          In the 200s, the authorship of certain portion of Daniel and Susanna in the Septuagint (LXX) were debated; Origen and his colleague Julius Africanus exchanged letters about Susanna.  In addition, the third-century pagan author Porphyry argued (as many interpreters still argue today) that the entire book of Daniel was composed in intertestamental times, during the reign of the Syrian ruler Antiochus Epiphanes.  No Christians seem to have objected to Christ's reference to Daniel in Matthew 24:15 as the source of Daniel 9:27.  But in the first centuries of Christianity, when copies of the Gospels were being circulated individually, a thoughtful copyist of the Gospel of Mark, seeing a reference to the book of Daniel coming from the mouth of Jesus, may have thought that source of the words τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου was a marginal note that an earlier copyist, or an individual who supervised copyists, had inserted into the text ‒ and, satisfied with the thought that the phrase was not original, declined to include it in subsequent copies.  

          That this happened, and happened early enough to influence some Old Latin copies, the text of the Sinaitic Syriac, and the text of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, is more probable than the idea that someone creating the Byzantine text, selecting readings from the Alexandrian and Western copies, threw τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου into Mark 13:14, especially considering that the words are not in Mark 13:14 in the earliest representatives of the Alexandrian or Western Greek text.

          This implies that the Alexandrian Text of the Gospel of Mark was not mechanically copied by scribes.  It implies that the Alexandrian Text of the Gospel of Mark was (slightly) edited by an editor who  removed features that appeared to him to run the risk of inviting objections from outsiders.  Lest this might seem to be a conspiracy theory, I leave you with the words of Bruce Metzger (from The Text of the New Testament, 4th edition, p. 312) that the Alexandrian Text is considered "on the whole the best ancient recension."



Maurice A. Robinson said...

For the record, I covered this same Mk 13:14 variant along with that of Mk 1:2 some 27 years ago in my article "Two Passages in Mark" (Faith and Mission 13:2 [1996] 66-111. Some of the same points noted by Mr Snapp were similarly addressed therein.

Demian said...

James, the predecessor of Origen in the school of Alexandria, Clement of Alexandria, had affirmed Daniel as a prophet along with Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Nahum, Haggai and Zachariah (Stromata, book 1, chapter 21). Origen also had no doubt that Daniel was a prophet and his writings were part of the canonical scriptures. The point that Africanus was raising in that letter to Origen pertained exclusively to the 13th chapter of the book of Daniel containing the story of Suzanna which he had not found in the Hebrew Scriptures. None of them disputed the status of Daniel as a prophet and nothing was more averse to their sentiments than the writings of skeptics like Celsus and Porphyry. I find hard to believe that anyone in the context of the church would remove a portion of the scripture because of skeptics, whom they were so eager to refute with scriptures themselves. Maybe a more plausible explanation is accidental loss due to some similarities between the endings of the preceding and the following words of the 6-word explanatory clause:

*ἐρημώσεως* τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ Δανιὴλ τοῦ προφήτου *ἑστὼς*. In addition to the same ending in “ως”, we have also the sigma (in the same place in both words) and the epsilon in both endings that could have potentially confused the brain of the copyist. I’m not qualified as you are to capture possible losses of sight in the text copyists are reproducing, but this seems to make sense for me.

Demian said...

* capture possible skipping of the line of sight