Monday, February 14, 2011

Matthew 17:21 - haplography: Aleph - Scribe D

When we turn to Matthew 17:21 in Codex Sinaiticus, it turns out we don't actually have the original page written by Scribe A.  Folio 209 (and its cognate) is part of a replacement sheet inserted by Scribe D.

On that sheet, a third the way down in column 2, we see a well-known omission, of verse 17:21, "But this kind does not go out if not by prayer and fasting."

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This is incorrectly (or at least inaccurately) listed in the UBS4 apparatus as an omission by "א*" , that is, the omission is supposed to be the original reading, later corrected according to UBS4 by "Aleph-2"  (i.e. Corrector #2).  We won't get into the difficult problem of correctly identifying the dozens of correctors of Aleph at the moment.  We only want to point out that the fact that the whole page is a "replacement-sheet" has gone unmentioned.
We have no way of knowing the readings that may have been found in the two consecutive pages that have been here replaced.  Just having such a drastic alteration to the MS before it even got out of the Scriptorium is an alarm-bell and a warning not to take the readings on the replacement-sheet as representing the original sheet.

It is however, important to point out that this Variation Unit does show signs of being an accidental homoeoteleuton-type error, as we have shown in a previous post here on the homoioteleuton blog:

πιστιν ως κοκκον σιναπεως ερειτε τω ορει
τουτω μεταβηθι εντευθεν εκει και μεταβησ-
εται και ουδεν αδυνατησει υμιν

τουτο δε το γενος ουκ εκπορευ-
εται ει μη εν προσευχη και νηστεια

αναστρεφομενων δε αυτων εν τη γαλιλαια
ειπεν αυτοις ο ιησους μελλει ο υιος του
ανθρωπου παραδιδοσθαι εις χειρας ανων

Interestingly,  Scribe D and his corrector (probably the same person) provide us with two other, probably more interesting variants here:

(1) instead of the Traditional text αναστρεφομενων
                                        we have συστρεφομενων

(2) instead of the TR reading:
     "τουτο δε το γενος ουκ εκπορευεται 
      ει μη εν προσευχη και νηστεια", 
we have: 
      τουτο δε το γενος ουκ εκβαλλεται
      ει μη εν προσευχη κ(αι) νηστεια

Both of these variants however, could simply be the scribe relying upon memory or a lectionary text, or even semi-conscious emendations.

What we can get out of this is the following.  While early 19th century textual critics were prone to exclaiming "look!  here is a piece of marginal gloss, being turned into text right before our eyes!" We are wise enough now (we hope) to realize that this is all but impossible, since the reading was known even to Origen (c.200 A.D.) over 100 years earlier than Sinaiticus.

On the contrary, this is just one of many unremarkable corrections, probably done by the scribe himself (Scribe D), while the manuscript was still in the scriptorium.  Nor is this small infraction likely to be the reason why Scribe D felt it necessary to replace an entire sheet (double-folio = 4 whole pages) of Scribe A's work.

Although we are no closer to knowing exactly what happened here to require a folio replacement, we do have another example of an accidental omission, and a typical solution.

Note the subtle but different meanings given to the two signs used for indicating the correction.  The larger straight obelisk indicates the line where the error occurred, and the smaller wavy obelisk indicates where in the main text the dropped phrase should be inserted.  The method is professional, and avoids any ambiguity.


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