Thursday, March 10, 2011

Matthew 10:37 - Codex B/D: Early h.t. Vanishes from UBS4!

This is a remarkable reading, not because it has any credibility as a reading (it is an obvious homoeoteleuton error, acknowledged by most critics and editors), but because of its strange history in the UBS text.

Here is the omission in Codex Vaticanus with its marginal correction:

Click to Enlarge: backbutton to return

It was duly and seriously noted in the apparatus of the UBS2 (1968, = NA26 etc.) and is indeed an important reading, because it appears to be a clear case of a previous error by a very early scribe, copied in independent lines to both Codex Vaticanus (B, and corrected in the margin there), and Codex Bezae (D).   That is, this was probably not committed coincidentally by both scribes, but by an ancient common ancestor, and duly copied (or cross-pollenated long before the 4th century).  Matt. 10:36-38:
  ..................... ..και εχθροι τ-
ου ανθρωπου οι οικιακοι αυτ-
ου ο φιλων πατερα η μητερα 
υπερ εμε ουκ εστιν μου αξιος 
και ο φιλων υιον η θυγατερα

υπερ εμε ουκ εστιν μου αξιος
και ος ου λαμβανει τον σταυ
ρον αυτου και ακολουθει οπ
ισω μου ουκ εστιν μου αξιος
 The similar ending extends to 1 1/2 lines, even at 23 characters per line.  This is an old error, from the 2nd or early 3rd century when papyrus copies of individual gospels carried only one or two columns per page.

The Master-Copy may have looked something like this:
Click to Enlarge

The UBS4 Fiasco:

But why did UBS4 (4th ed.  1993) remove it from the apparatus?    Surely not because it would damage the reputation of either Codex Vaticanus (B) or Codex Bezae.  Bezae is already well-known as a quirky and often unreliable text.   And if this is an error from a previous common ancestor, it cannot harm the reputation of the careful and skillful copyists of Vaticanus.

The answer is in the word "error".    Why?  Because it is a clear example of the careful copying of an ancient error by Codex Vaticanus.  An error of homoeoteleuton.  And it brings ALL such possible errors into sharp focus, especially those Variation Units where Vaticanus shares the omission with Codex Sinaiticus (א).

Because at least 75 of these probable h.t. errors, supported by (א/B) have been adopted as if they were original readings by the Hortian editors of the UBS text.

A large number of these readings are supported by earlier (2nd-3rd cent.) papyri, such as P66 and P75.  This was taken to mean the readings were original.  But the evidence can be more easily taken as proof of the obvious:  That most of these early h.t. errors do indeed go back to the 2nd century, but this fact merely reflects the poor state of the text and copying practice in that era, and not the purity of the 'Alexandrian' transmission stream behind (א/B).

So why delete from the apparatus this obviously significant h.t. error?  Because it, along with many other embarrassing cases, detracts from the reputation of the Alexandrian text-type, and the wisdom of following it.


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