Thursday, December 9, 2010

John 8:59-9:2 - (h.a.)

John 8:59-9:2 (traditional text)

...ηραν ουν λιθους
ινα βαλωσιν επ αυτον. δε εκρυβη
και εξηλθεν εκ του ιερου
και διελθων δια μεσου αυτων [επορευετο] και παρηγεν ουτως
και παραγων ειδεν ανθρωπον τυφλον εκ γενετης
ηρωτησαν αυτον οι μαθηται αυτου λεγοντες

... Then they took stones to cast
upon Him: butJesus hid Himself, and went out of the Temple,

and going through the midst of them, and so he passed by;
and as He passed by, he saw a man who was born blind;
and His disciples asked Him, saying...

INCLUDE LINE: א(Corr.1), C, L, N, X,ψ, 070, 0141, 0211, 33, 213, 397, 579, 597, 799, 821, 865, 892, 1010, 1071, 1241, 2786, pc19, Sy-P, Sy-H, Sy-Pal, bo, geo2
(omit "και"/"επορευετο"): A, K, Π Δ Θ(Corr), f1, f13, 157, Lat: f/q, goth
Byz, Maj (Majority of all continuous MSS) Lect,

P66/75, א*, B, D, W, Θ*, 849, pc9, Lat, Sy-S, sa, ac2, arm, geo1

B: no umlaut

A comedy of errors seems to conspire to obscure what plainly happened here. First of all, the separation of John into chapters is very recent (c. 1500 A.D.), but the following lines clearly continue a narrative, and were normally written tightly together in ancient times.

Ironically, we must ignore the Byzantine text temporarily to put the puzzle back together.

Instead we turn to the oldest Uncial, Codex Sinaiticus for the missing pieces. Here Copyist A carefully preserves the original text, dropped by either א* or his exemplar. But Copyist A (circa 320 A.D.) discloses that the line originally had και immediately following the word 'Temple'. This was the και which caused the copyist of Codex Sinaiticus' ancestor to skip the line.

In the 2nd-3rd centuries, when copies were made on papyrus, pages had wide single columns, not groups of 3-4 narrow columns as found in Aleph/B. It must have been at this time that the omission happened.

The new format of the Uncials made on parchment (with shorter lines) made the Haplography error harder to spot, allowing it to slip under the radar in Codex Vaticanus and other MSS.

It did not help matters when the Byzantines, through independant lines of transmission deleted the "AND" (και), and so removed yet more evidence of the haplography error.

Finally, the UBS-2 apparatus, including the redundant word preceding the omission in every variant, makes the Haplography (homoioarchon) virtually invisible, even in the apparatus. Dividing up the witnesses that include the line, over minor variations, further obscures and confuses what happened.

The usual suspects, Westcott/Hort, Nestle, UBS-2 etc. perpetuate an error we escaped from for almost 2000 years. Again, 'modern' versions follow the UBS text, without even a footnote for the lost half-verse.

Its another undocumented change, which sadly loses one of the key components of the whole Chiastic Structure of this section. The fuller text shows Jesus exiting the Temple in the same supernatural way He arrived, and this compositional key is obliterated by the boo-boo.


  1. "The fuller text shows Jesus exiting the Temple in the same supernatural way He arrived"


  2. While the authorities are on the lookout for Jesus at the festival, and even employ spies and threats to report his presence, Jesus manages to appear dramatically and suddenly in the centre of the temple, preaching to the crowds. This is so startling that people are commenting out loud, wondering why He isn't being arrested.

    While not a miracle per se, the implication is that it is inexplicable, for He is not seen arriving in spite of obvious lookouts and the anticipation of the crowds.

    Jesus leaves the same (or even perhaps in a further enhanced) way: He virtually passes through those trying to cease and stone Him. How he does this is not explained, and the technique purposely creates a supernatural aura around Jesus' entrance and exit, with the exit implying an explanation for the problematic entrance.

    It seems that John deliberately leaves the actual 'miracle' ambiguous, but the text is still heavily laden with supernatural/miraculous innuendo. This also indicates that both instances are Johannine in origin, since it is almost typical of John's style of narrative.

    The unusual and again unexplained visit to the Mount of Olives in the center of the section is in the same style, and is left for the reader to decipher and supply the meaning to it.

    The combination of ambiguity, innuendo, and reader participation and responsibility for interpretation are all Johannine narrative characteristics.

    Hope that explains what the post is suggesting, whether or not you agree with the observations.