Monday, January 31, 2011

Lukan Omissions: Masterlist

Here are the collations Mr. Scrivener compiled from his review of the SBL / Hort text, for discussion:

Essentially, we see that Luke has taken about 50 serious hits from scribal errors, many of them already catalogued as homoeoteleuton skips.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hortians examine Mark 3:32 - homoeoteleuton

 I here quote a Hortian defender named "Brandpluckt" (there seem to be two different people using the same handle) on Bible Discussion Forums.  He claims that Traditional Text defenders ignore homoeoteleuton when it occurs in the Majority Text or the Textus Receptus.

We agreed to post his example, and wonder if there are actually any more plausible cases from the Byzantine text that would qualify as probable homoeoteleuton:

"On the other hand, I wonder if KJVO advocates would be willing to admit the TR purposely removed a reference to the sisters of Jesus in Mark 3:32. The TR removed the BYZ reading “and your sisters” which is also the reading (in brackets) in the NA text.
Metzger has this comment:
“A majority of the Committee considered it probable that the words  και αι αδελφαι σου [and your sisters] were omitted from most witnesses either (a) accidentally through an oversight in transcription (the eye of the scribe passing from σου to σου), or (b) deliberately because neither in verse 31 nor verse 34 (nor in the parallel passages) are the sisters mentioned."
( - Bruce M. Metzger, Textual Commentary, 2nd Ed., 1994, p.70).
In other words the TR has h.t. in it also. I willing to wager we will never hear about that!"
Well, all we can say is, he is wrong; we are glad to post examples of homoeoteleuton  wherever they happen to occur.    Perhaps others can give examples of possible h.t. in the TR, and we will post them here and analyze them.

Of course its hard to pass over the obvious double standard the Revision Committee used when dealing with possible h.t.   In almost every case where the Variation Unit had the very same h.t. features but the fault was in the Alexandrian textual witnesses or archetype, the possibility wasn't even discussed, but instead consciously avoided! 



Update:  Johnathan Borland has posted on the Yahoo Groups TC list the following internal analysis:

Internal reasons for including KAI AI ADELFAI SOU in Mark 3:32  include:

1. Accidental omission by homoeoteleuton error (SOU...SOU).
2. Assimilation to 3:31,33,34, where mention of the sisters is absent.
3. Harmonization to Matt 12:46,[47] || Luke 8:19,20, where mention is absent.
4. No one added the words to the Byzantine addition of Matt 12:47 (possibly omitted by h.t. error), even though KAI ADELFH is present in Matt 12:50 just as in Mark 3:35.

The internal criticism of Tony Pope is indecisive since 3:31 is narrative and 3:32 records discourse. Some in the crowd could have called attention to the sisters, just as in 6:3. At least I see its presence as no more clumsy or different than TI POIEITE TOUTO in 11:3 in conjunction with TI POIEITE LUONTES TON PWLON in 11:5. Besides, if critics thought the expression were clumsy, they could have added it to 3:31 (but no one apparently did so) or simply deleted it.

Internal reasons explain the omission and merely corroborate the text as preserved in most manuscripts, including a number of comparatively ancient ones (e.g., A D; OL-a,b,d,ff2).

Jonathan C. Borland  (February 10, 2011)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

F.H.A. Scrivener on homoeoteleuton in Aleph

In his collation against the TR of Codex Sinaiticus, Scrivener takes time in the Introduction (p. xiv-xv) to discuss the many haplographic errors in the manuscript:
"There are no letters larger than the rest at the beginning of sentences, though the continuity of the text is much broken by a line being left incomplete (sometimes it will contain only two or three letters), in which case the first letter in the next line mostly stands out of the range of the column, encroaching on the margin (see Facsimile 2, 11. 5, 6). 
This manuscript must have been derived from one more ancient, in which the lines were similarly divided, [i.e., narrow columns 12-16 cpl] since the writer occasionally omits just the number of letters which would suffice to fill a line, and that to the utter ruin of the sense; as if his eye had heedlessly wandered to the line immediately below. Instances of this want of care will be found Luke xxi. 8 ; xxii. 25, perhaps John iv. 45 ; xii. 25, where complete lines are omitted : John xix. 26 ; Heb. xiii. 18 (partly corrected) ; Apoc. xviii. 16 ; xix. 12 ; xxii. 2, where the copyist passed in the middle of a line to the corresponding portion of the line below. 
It must be confessed, indeed, that the Codex Sinaiticus abounds with similar errors of the eye and pen, to an extent not unparalleled, but happily rather unusual in documents of first-rate importance ; so that Tregelles has freely pronounced that "the state of the text, as proceeding from the first scribe, may be regarded as very rough" (N. T. Part ii. p. 2). Letters and words, even whole sentences, are frequently written twice over, or begun and immediately cancelled : while that gross blunder technically known as Homoeoteleuton, whereby a clause is omitted because it happens to end in the same words as the clause preceding, occurs no less than 115 times in the N. T., though the defect is often supplied by a more recent hand. We have thought it right to record all such clerical errors in their proper place for the reader's information ; hut while they must he admitted to deform the face of this exquisite relique of the primitive ages of our faith, they need not he held to detract materially from its intrinsic value, much less ought they to militate against our conviction of its very high antiquity."   
- F.H.A. Scrivener,
A Collation of Codex Sinaiticus., (1864) p. xiv-xv
Of course many Hortians have complained that Scrivener's count here is skewed by his use of the TR as a reference.  But it must be acknowledged that Scrivener is in the main talking about singular and nonsensical readings not shared by Vaticanus, and that are traceable to the copyists who made this manuscript, 'prima manu' (1st hand, 1st generation errors).  Scrivener is hardy dismissing possible variant readings that have other textual support and which preserve the sense.  He highly prizes Sinaiticus, in spite of its errors, and would not ignore or abandon important readings in the process of collating plain errors.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dr. Maurice Robinson on homoeoteleuton in Aleph/B

The following was posted by "HoLogos" at the Bible Version Discussion Board, in response to some debating there (01/14/2011).  He quotes an email communication from Dr. Maurice Robinson as follows:

 Dr. Maurice Robinson occasionally sends me emails in response to things I post.  He said this:

 Re:  Dr. Maurice A. Robinson, "In Search of the Alexandrian Archetype: Observations from a Byzantine-Priority Perspective." In Christian-B. Amphoux and J. Keith Elliott, eds., The New Testament Text in Early Christianity: Proceedings of the Lille Colloquium, July 2000. Histoire du Texte Biblique 6. Lausanne: Éditions du Zèbre, 2003, 45-67.
Dr. Robinson said:
"The thrust of this article was that the Greek archetype MS that formed the basis for a probable Alexandrian recension was already defective, containing numerous instances of homoioteleuton omission in which the resultant reading yet "made sense." A large number of such putative homoioteleuton omissions was cited therein, some of which, I suppose, would match "Nazaroo's" own listed claims, although no particular claim based on questionable guesswork regarding line length was made therein.

However -- and this is probably important -- I would not agree with "Nazaroo" in relation to such a wholesale level of "sensible" homoioteleuton errors as he appears to claim. Were his supposition correct, the Alexandrian revisers would seem to have chosen one of the worst possible MSS on which to base their recension (and yes, I do consider the Alexandrian text to be the product of a recension, presumably created as a scholarly production intended to serve as a base for an ecclesiastical translation into Coptic); this simply would fly counter to their purpose.

In contrast, I suggest only that the chosen base exemplar did possess a number of "sensible" readings resulting from homoioteleuton. However, the remaining "shorter readings" characteristic of that texttype I presume to have arisen from the scholarly recensional process in general, likely with a primary interest in eliminating whatever were considered secondary expansions of the "Western" variety, wherein a number of otherwise "Byzantine" readings were equally eliminated in the process. The fact that many of these recensional "shorter readings" might happen to possess similar beginnings, endings or mid-portions (homoioarcton, homoioteleuton, and in some cases homoiomeson) would become more of a coincidence and a by-product of recension rather than any real error of omission per se.

Basically, my contention is that "Nazaroo" greatly overstates his case, which if correct would posit the worst possible MS as the chosen basis for the Alexandrian recension, which makes no sense, assuming the scholarly rationality of the Alexandrian revisers. Thus, the claims of "Nazaroo" end up minimizing the actual act of recension in favor of unbridled accidental omission. With this I simply would not concur (nor do I care to enter into discussion with anonymous or otherwise unknown internet posters regarding such a matter).
- Dr. Maurice Robinson"
 I thank both Dr. Robinson for offering his opinion regarding this question, and HoLogos for kindly posting it for review.

Dr. Robinson's position is perfectly respectable, and must be given serious weight because of his obvious longstanding knowledge, experience, and expertise in this field.   He is certainly not obliged to accept every instance of apparent homoeoteleuton that we have proposed as being absolutely certain as to its actual cause, nor is he obliged to embrace the longer text as always being the original reading.

To clarify our own position, we ourselves are not claiming absolute certainty regarding how these variants arose, or as to the original reading in every case.   Our argument rests on the necessary consideration of the weight of probability in favor of the majority of Variation Units which have undisputed homoeoteleuton features being in fact homoeoteleuton errors.

To simplify the argument, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and waddles like a duck, it is not always, but usually always, is in fact a duck.   Most homoeoteleuton featured Variation Units probably originated from homoeoteleuton errors.

This is not to say that the textual history froze at that point, or that subsequent attempts at correction or conscious editing did not take place, further complicating the history of transmission.  Obviously, once variants arose and were noticed, people made efforts to fix the text and eliminate likely errors.  That they did not always make the right choice is a given.

The main point is that methodologically speaking, the reasonable course is to accept VUs with homoeoteleuton characteristics as homoeoteleuton errors, unless there can be shown some other overriding reason to posit another origin for the variations.  Thus the relevant TC Canon that could conceivably change a judgment of homoeoteleuton into something else would be the following:

The Reading that Explains the Others

1. That reading is to be preferred which seems to have suggested the others, or out of which it is most easy to suppose that the others would arise.
(W. Milligan, The Words of the NT, 1873)

I believe Dr. Robinson concurs with this idea, for he is suggesting that some of the Variation Units with homoeoteleuton features are not homoeoteleuton errors, but rather a result of conscious editing by Alexandrian editors in the process of making an 'Alexandrian recension'.   He says,
 "the remaining 'shorter readings' [still having homoeoteleuton features] ...I presume to have arisen from the scholarly recensional process..,"
Dr. Robinson also seems to make clear that this was perhaps not a single 'recension' at one point in time, but an ongoing process, perhaps part of the natural correction and editing policies apparently carried on in Alexandria over a relatively long period.

Dr. Robinson also suggests a conscious and deliberate process, for he says about this process that it was "likely" carried on,
"... with a primary interest in eliminating whatever were considered secondary expansions of the 'Western' variety..."
It must be noted that Dr. Robinson is not speaking only of Variation Units with homoeoteleuton features, but is also including other omissions in the discussion.  For he says,
"many of these recensional "shorter readings" might happen to possess similar beginnings, endings or mid-portions"...
That is, some Variation Units arising from the Alexandrian "scholarly recensional process" don't necessarily have these features.

The situation is this:  there are some 200+ omissions of whole/half verses in the Alexandrian text.  Of these, over 80 cases have homoeoteleuton features (about 40% of Variation Units).

The first question then becomes simply, how many of the 80 homoeoteleuton featured cases are in fact actually deliberate edits by the Alexandrian recensionists (i.e. the homoeoteleuton features are a coincidence)?

The second question that arises is just as important.  If we re-categorize some of these cases as deliberate edits omitting perceived 'Western expansions', as Dr. Robinson suggests, then we have to concede that these longer readings must be older than the Alexandrian readings arising from the editing process. You have to first have a reading in order to remove it.  If we mark these 'Western' readings as 2nd century, then the Alexandrian editing process must have been happening after the 'Western' text was already circulating.

One keen observation must be made here.  In either case (h.t., or deliberate edit), the Alexandrian reading remains secondary in both timing and credibility.
At least some of the Alexandrian deletions will be erroneous, and the older 'Western' readings will be original.   Which ones?  We can't simply choose on the basis of the questionable reputation of Alexandrian editors.  Each Western candidate and its Alexandrian alternative must be weighed on its own merits, including other attestation.

Alexandrian Omissions (200+)
homoeoteleuton features (40%) other unknown causes
real h.t. editing real mistakes
real h.t. bad edits good edits good edits bad edits real mistakes

The chart above shows the breakdown of cases.   Some textual critics believe that most variants are accidental, while others believe that most variants are a result of deliberate editing.  To determine such questions, a deep analysis of scribal habits and editing habits is needed.

In any case, we see the Law of Diminishing Returns at work. Some editing activity will be in error.  Dr. Robinson has already suggested that some omissions are a result of an editing policy based on personal judgment of early Alexandrian editors.  If so, some of those variant readings will indeed be new innovations, and not simply a result of editors choosing between already existing readings.  In other words, some edits must be inventive fictions, and not correct selections of the original text.

The success of the Alexandrian editors in spotting and correcting 'Western' expansions will in part be based on whether there actually were very many in the first place.  Were there really nearly 200 insertions?  Or did the Alexandrian editors get overzealous in 'purging' and 'improving' the text?

But if as Dr. Robinson says, these edits were accumulated over a significant period of time in an ongoing process, obviously a fair number of them will be relatively 'late' in the Alexandrian stream and therefore also secondary.

And if the Alexandrians were quite capable of accumulating omissions arising from deliberate edits over time, including many with homoeoteleuton features, the very same 'correction' procedures they used will likely  accumulate real homoeoteleuton errors that look like 'good Alexandrian edits', since they appear the same.  Real edits with homoeoteleuton features were left alone, and mistakes would have been left alone too.

In other words, from the very features found in the Alexandrian text and the explanations offered, The Alexandrian 'editing process' was intrinsically prone to accumulating accidental omissions alongside edits.  Their method of editing and correction introduced significant errors over time.

From this it is plain that even if some of the homoeoteleuton cases have been incorrectly identified, and are actually deliberate edits, the end result can still be the same.  Some are not original readings, and should not be brought back into the critical text. Some significant portion of homoeoteleuton cases must be acknowledged to be false readings, whether they are homoeoteleuton or not.

It is not enough to point out that some cases might not be homoeoteleuton after all:
(1)  Some reliable sieve method must be actually developed that can successfully distinguish between true and false homoeoteleuton cases.

(2)  Some additional method must be developed that can successfully distinguish between 'good edits' and mistaken edits in the Alexandrian textual stream.


Now lets move onto Dr. Robinson's second point:
"Basically, my contention is that Nazaroo greatly overstates his case, which if correct would posit the worst possible MS as the chosen basis for the Alexandrian recension, which makes no sense, assuming the scholarly rationality of the Alexandrian revisers."
The doctor is quite right:

(1) This would make no sense, if we assume scholarly competence of the Alexandrian revisers.

But the problem is deeper even than this.  No one has demonstrated any 'formal' Alexandrian recension at all.  The Alexandrian texts show a broad diversity and suggest a constantly changing text as a result of an extended process over time, as Dr. Robinson has acknowledged.

It is not then correct to talk of a single 'recension' at all, even in the form of an ongoing 'process'.  It is more reasonable  suggest rather a general 'tendency' of Alexandrian copyists/correctors/editors, or perhaps even a case could be made for a conscious 'policy' regarding conciseness of text or literary style.   But that is as far as we can go.

And if this is the case, then the Alexandrian 'editors' can hardly be relied upon to preserve the original text, or be hailed as "rational scholars" engaging in reliable textual criticism.  This is a naive anachronism, a fool's hope and a pipe-dream.

The evidence suggests rather that the Alexandrian textual stream suffered from a glaring lack of control over the text, and a resultant ongoing accumulation of errors.  The 'Alexandrian technique' was significantly flawed, and over time resulted in significant damage to the text.

What the Alexandrian textual evidence offers is not a source for 'lost original readings', but a life-lesson in the consequences of poor copying/correcting practices.

(2) The claim would also seem to make no sense, if the Alexandrians had access to good copies, or had a choice of copies, or knew the nature of the copies they had before using them.

But it is quite reasonable to pose several explanations for the poor state of the Alexandrian text.

(a) There is no reason to suppose that they would have the best copies at the very early stages, in Egyptian outposts.  It is likely that like all outposts and satellite churches operating underground, they would have to settle for whatever copies were made, by amateur copyists.

(b) There is no reason to suppose they would have a choice of copies.  They would not be offered a 'salad bar' of copies, from which to choose.  Any new church or underground location in a new city would be given a text, period.  They would be lucky to get a single copy for use in making more.  It is unlikely that they even had a complete NT corpus in the first 50-100 years at most locations.

(c)  There is no reason to suppose they would know a good copy from a bad one.  The contents of the various NT books and letters would not be known in detail, or memorized, until organized public church reading was fully established, which took centuries to spread across the empire.

(d) Procedures of accurate copying and correction took centuries to develop.  The issue of text and canon arose long after copies of every quality had spread throughout the empire.

For these reasons, it is quite plausible that the early history of the text generally suffered the most variation and error, and it is easy to see how poor copies temporarily spawned bad lines of textual transmission.

(e) The Alexandrian and Egyptian centers of copying and community did not spring up instantly with a "scholarly recensional process" in place, and rational editors following clear scientific principles of textual correction and restoration working.  Such talent and method must have developed slowly, if at all.

The "scholarly recensional process" that Dr. Robinson speaks of simply did not exist in the first few centuries, and if it existed at all, it would have been most developed in the 4th century in Antioch and Rome, not Alexandria.

(3) The Claim still makes perfect sense, even if the Alexandrians did have good copies of the text(s) as their starting point and basis. 

We have to add just one more critically important caveat to Dr. Robinson's objection on this point:

Dr. Robinson:

"his case, which if correct would posit the worst possible MS as the chosen basis for the Alexandrian recension, which makes no sense.."
But this is actually not true at all, and it is Dr. Robinson's objection that actually makes no sense.    Our model actually assumes that the text the Alexandrians started with was remarkably good, and similar to the Byzantine text.  But it was the Alexandrians who corrupted this text through accumulated omissions (accidental or otherwise).   My contribution here refers to those omissions with homoeoteleuton features, but Mr. Scrivener's contribution to the account takes up omissions without such features.   In either case however, the longer readings are assumed to be the original readings, and whether they were omitted accidentally or as a result of deliberate editing is unimportant. 

The important point is that the omissions are errors, and the missing text is original, and therefore the starting basis or 'seed' text used by the Alexandrians was in all likelihood actually quite good.  It was Alexandrian copying practices over a significant period of time which corrupted the text, not the choice of starting-text.   To miss this is to miss the whole account of the textual history we are proposing.

Secondly, we can be very specific about exactly what part of the process resulted in the accumulation of errors.  The Alexandrians simply didn't aggressively hunt for and correct homoeoteleuton errors, because they simply weren't aware of their frequency.   This would only be something which would become a concern after texts began to show wild variations in readings, namely in the time of Origen, (c. 200-250 A.D.) and later. 

Scribal copying practices were only properly tightened up when the problem became severe enough to attract attention.   It is already quite clear that Alexandrian scribes and correctors did not correct omissions that possessed the features of homoeoteleuton, because the Alexandrian texts are rife with such omissions.

Whether or not the Alexandrians had lists of accepted omissions or simply badly chosen master-copies used for correction is moot.  The fact is, by whatever primitive or inadequate correction techniques or policies that were in place in the first 2 or 3 centuries, omissions accumulated and were perpetuated.   This methodology also allowed real homoeoteleuton errors to accumulate as well, because these would have appeared identical to other Alexandrian 'edits'. 

We can make two plain and rather indisputable observations about Alexandrian copying practices:
(a) In the first century or two, homoeoteleuton errors were not aggressively hunted down and corrected, and there was probably only a rudimentary correction process in place, or virtually none at all.

(b) In later Alexandrian practice, either techniques or policy allowed already accumulated omissions to remain, and also allowed more to accumulate.  

In the end, the Alexandrians actually did rather quickly end up with "the worst possible MS(S) as the chosen basis for the Alexandrian recension" and this sadly makes perfect sense, contra Dr. Robinson.


Finally, we must also turn to the other omissions (some 120 cases) where there is no apparent homoeoteleuton feature to be found.

If we accept Dr. Robinson's view, these are mostly deliberate edits by Alexandrian correctors and editors.   This is hardly a recommendation.  But what if there is a simpler and more obvious explanation for these omissions?

What if, as Mr. Scrivener has proposed (and presented plausible evidence of), these are also largely mere haplography errors by copyists?

There are several aspects in favor of such an interpretation.

(1) The 'edits' as a group don't really make any rational sense.  They don't follow theological lines, or historical lines, or even consistent grammatical lines.  The best that can be shown is that some appear to be verbally redundant. But many are not.  Just as some omissions lack homoeoteleuton features, some omissions lack any sign of deliberate editing.

(2) When we acknowledge that most scribes are mere copyists, not 'editors' or theologians, we must also acknowledge that most of the omissions they generate are indeed simple errors of haplography, even when they don't always present homoeoteleuton features.  Mistakes are mistakes, and we should not expect every mistake to have a reconstructable explanation.

(3) The omissions have every sign of a long, random process of accumulation and change.  The idea of a sustained effort at deliberate editing of the text following a single policy is artificial and lacks evidence, whereas we know the texts were copied, and copied by all too error-prone copyists.

(4) The evidence of accidental omission must be seriously considered.  Large numbers of coincidences regarding line-length must be adequately accounted for according to known copying habits and formats of early texts.  Just ignoring this evidence to favor a theory of 'deliberate editing' is not scientific or sensible.

The question of how many omissions are deliberate edits, and how many are simple uncaught errors must be deeply analyzed case by case, and the results collected, before any general claims are made about what percentages are involved.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Luke 24:51 - another ordinary accident

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Another long stretch of identical text, which unfortunately could fall five different ways on a wide master-copy, and still generate the exact same accidental omission via homoeoteleuton.

We've seen enough of these to recognise a trivial blunder when it presents itself.  Here both P75 and B avoid the omission, and even Codex Sinaiticus has been corrected to include the line.   Thus the original reading of Codex Sinaiticus in omitting stands virtually alone alongside Codex D. 

Such an alignment simply shouts post-common ancestor, and there can be no rational reason to follow Sinaiticus' text here, unless we are slavishly following Hort's Universal axiom, "Prefer the shorter reading, even when its wrong."

This accident obviously happened in the Sinaiticus-only stream of transmission, very late in the game.  Even the UBS2 text doesn't bother to bracket the gaffe, noting the evidence in the apparatus.

Yet somehow, the new SBL-GNT single-brackets the text, slavishly following Hort for a yet unknown reason.


Luke 23:17 - Codex A style Gaffe

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Another classic skip, with similar endings and similar letter combinations sprinkled all around.

This is plainly a later omission, which Codex Sinaiticus has avoided, and so cannot have been in the common ancestor.   The agreement of P75 (3rd cent.) with Codex B is expected, since it is an obvious offshoot of the Codex B copying stream.

 Codex A (4th cent.) can hardly give the omission any further weight;  Hort has already written off most of Codex A's readings because it agrees so frequently with the Byzantine text-type against his precious Codex B.   Its very agreement with B reveals it was often edited to conform with the B text, right or wrong.

The UBS2 apparatus tries to break up the Majority Support for the inclusion of the verse, by listing the witnesses in separate groups, but this tactic is too transparent to give it any serious consideration.

Omit: P75 A B K L T Pi 0124 892* 1079 1241 1546 l185pt it(a) cop(sa, bo-mss), Diatessaron.

Include: א W X Delta Theta Phi 063 Family 1, Family 13, 28 565 700 1010 1195 (1216 1230 1253 1646 2174 variations) 1242 1365 2148 Byzantine Text (Majority of MSS), Lectionaries, (l70 om. autos) Italic (sur, b,c,e,f,ff2, l, q, (r1)) Vulgate Syr (p,h) Copt (bo mss) Eusebius, (1009) (892 mg+) (1071 om autois) 1344 (Arm) Geo, etc.

Insert verse after 19: D/d Syr(c,s) Eth.

Luke 20:30 - "Aleph Style" homoeoteleuton

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Yet another undocumented deletion in the UBS2 text, following Hort's obsession with codex B.   But this is yet again an obvious and also late omission, probably occurring originally in a manuscript from the early 3rd century and which contained either all four Gospels, or else an entire NT corpus.

One can imagine the tired scribe's eyes glossing over, as the candle-light flickers hypnotically.   He has already just copied the line in green only a notch or two above, mentally preparing him to glance at the omitted line and identify it as already done.

He glances back to the exemplar, searching for the line-end for the next row, and latches onto the wrong spot, losing two lines in the process.  All is well in Alexandrian la-la land.

Hort is too embarrassed to discuss the homoeoteleuton gaffe, but does not hesitate to follow the omission anyway, without attention-drawing comments.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Luke 17:36 ...undeniable boner

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With the long (56 character) omission of Luke 17:36, we only need look at the previous verse ending to understand the farce.  Fully 26 out of 28 letters, or 93% of the line is identical to that which preceded.  

An eye-skip like this could have happened with 2x28 letters per column, or 4x14, or a number of other unlucky combinations.  

With this much text being near-identical, the text itself could be in dozens of different alignments for a given width, and produce the identical omission.   

It would be surprising if more scribes didn't omit this unfortunate chunk of text.   Of course it probably did happen, but on many occasions the proof-reading would have revealed the mistake and the repair would have been made before the manuscript got out the scriptorium door.

An alternate format is as follows.  It would suggest an exemplar something like Codex Sinaiticus, which in turn suggests that this omission occurred later in the transmission chain, perhaps in the early to mid 3rd century.   Even the Byzantine text has picked up this homoeoteleuton blunder.


Luke 11:54 - undocumented homoeoteleuton

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Again, no record in the UBS2 apparatus, but a significant omission nonetheless, originally adopted by Hort.

There is little to say about this obvious eye-skip from the early 3rd century, when all four gospels were being gathered into single manuscripts, and even combinations of Gospels/Acts/Paul etc. were made. 

The exact same omission could have arisen with five different text-alignments, in a 20-21 letter per line manuscript.


Luke 8:48: Another h.t. bumble followed by critics

Another obvious but short stutter, over two instances of a relatively unusual letter, Theta.  The early copyist lost his place, and the instance is so short that even a good proof-reader would be unlikely to spot it.

Modern critics have no similar excuse however, having carefully documented the variant, and its obvious homoeoteleuton features.  Its another case where politics has overridden honesty and common sense.  The original text is lost in the Hortian card-shuffle.

This Majority Text reading is omitted and left completely undocumented in the UBS2 apparatus.   Most aren't even aware of the deletion.


Luke 6:45 - Another case of early Homoeoteleuton

The several other spots showing strong similarity between the two lines, (at the beginning and middle) also corroborate the likelihood of an accidental h.t. error here.
The wide 24-25 cpl format suggests an earlier exemplar from the late 2nd or early 3rd century, something like P66 or P75.  From this estimate of date we have no hesitation in positing "anthropos" here as a Noma Sacra (Standard Abbreviation). Such a MS may or may not have been a collection of all four gospels.  Certainly this case should be grouped with other VUs of the same length already I.D.ed as h.t. errors.


As well as the dropping of "θησαυρου της καρδιας αυτου"  we should also note the other changes this whole verse has suffered at the hands of the Alexandrians behind the Aleph/B text

The copyist/editor first drops "αυτου" from the first phrase "his heart", changing it to read "the heart".  This appears to be a 'mental edit' possibly even unconsciously done.  Such words are lost all the time as copyists carry on, thinking they've copied something they've heard in their own head, but not actually written down.

More interesting is the second "ανφρωπος" ("man").   The Greek can miss the word without too much loss, but it should also be remembered that in the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries, this would be written as an abbreviation (as shown above) "ανος".  As such, it could easily have been accidentally skipped by homoeoteleuton in the line above, because of the "ηρος" immediately preceding.

   Thus in the Aleph/B text for this verse, we seem to have TWO homoeoeteleuton, and one brief mental lapse, causing three separate omissions in a single verse.  

Its a sad statement about the early copyist, but not a surprising one, given the some 70-80 homoeoeteleuton errors already found in this early ancestor of Aleph/B.

All of this goes again undocumented in the UBS2 Apparatus.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Hort on Homoeoteleuton & Codex B

 Although Hort wrote hundreds of convoluted pages in support of his favorite MSS, א and B, he was undoubtedly clever enough to avoid going too far, too often in many of his arguments.  As a result, he presents surprisingly lucid discussions on many occasions, sometimes as a necessary concession.

In one place, Hort is remarkably instructive on the subject of homoeoteleuton:
312.  When the singular readings of B are examined for the purpose here explained, it is found that on the one hand the scribe reached by no means a high standard of accuracy, and on the other his slips are not proportionally numerous or bad.  Like most transcribers, he occasionally omits necessary portions of text because his eye returned to the exemplar at the wrong place. 
As the longer portions of text so omitted consist usually either of 12 to 14 letters or of multiples of the same, his exemplar was doubtless written in lines of this length.
Often, but not always, an obvious cause of omission may be found in homoeoteleuton, the beginning or ending of consecutive portions of text with the same combinations of letters or of words. Reduplications due to the same cause likewise also occur, but more rarely. 
More characteristic than these commonest of lapses is a tendency to double a single short word, syllable, or letter, or to drop one of two similar consecutive short words, syllables, or letters." 
(Hort, Introduction, ¶ 312, p. 234)

This paragraph informs us on many levels.  Hort concedes the following:

 The Scribe of B

(1)  The scribe of B is not very accurate, and makes plenty of mistakes.

(2)  Often the singular omissions of B are simple homoeoteleuton errors.

(3)  Many singular omissions lacking homoeoteleuton features are caused by the very same error, namely, eye-skips.

(4)  The singular omissions of B are mainly accidental haplographic errors.

(5)  The scribe omits text more often than he adds text (i.e., dittography).

(6)  The omissions are numerous enough to characterize the scribe as undistinctive and these lapses are among the commonest errors.

(7)  These errors are consistent enough to determine the probable column-width of the scribe's immediate exemplar, namely, 12-14 letters per column.

(8)  What really IS distinctive of the scribe of B is his own frequent habit omitting or duplicating even shorter portions of text, on the size of words, syllables, letters. (Hort immediately gives 13 examples.)

Hort is also very adamant and certain that the singular omissions are indeed accidents, and not alleged 'tendencies' or conscious habits of deliberate editing:
"313. ... A current supposition, ....that the scribe of B was peculiarly addicted to arbitrary omissions, we believe to be entirely unfounded, ..." (Hort ibid. p. 234)

Of particular importance in the list above, are (3) and (5), which speak volumes about the real nature of the omissions in both   א/B.

And (7), while it cannot be accredited to Hort (in fact, we believe Rendel Harris originated this kind of analyis: see our Harris Article) is equally important to our study of the ancestors of the ancestor of   א/B.

Procedurally, Hort was quite right to set aside non-singular omissions in characterizing the scribe of B (e.g., ignore omissions shared with א and other manuscripts), since these are likely to be errors from previous scribes, and not the final copyist of B. (cf. ¶ 314,  ibid. p. 235).   

Yet for our purposes, there is no need nor reason to set them aside at all.  They may not characterize the scribe of B, but they certainly characterize the scribes of previous copies in the chain prior to the common ancestor of  א/B

As we have noted, if singular readings can be classified on the basis of their physical features, (i.e., homoeoteleuton, & random omissions), and they can even be used to determine the column-width of exemplars, then obviously so can non-singular readings, provided the results are assigned to the right ancestor in a plausible transmission history.   There is no logical reason to treat them differently than singular readings, or assign different causes. 

Hort avoided this discussion, since his quest to construct the oldest possible text overrode his caution regarding the value of those old readings.  Hort did not openly discuss the possibility of homoeoteleuton in the 70  א/B omissions which have those very features, as this would have not only disqualified them and exposed the flaw in his own plan for textual reconstruction, but it would have weakened severely the credibility of the other 130 omissions as candidates for the original text as well.

In closing, Hort contrasts the omissions in the Western text, which he concedes may be deliberate and conscious, with the omissions of B as follows:
"¶ 314.  ...If however a like scrutiny is applied to important words or clauses, such as are sometimes dropped in the Western texts for the sake of apparent directness or simplicity, we find no traces whatever of a similar tendency in B.  
Omissions due to clerical error, and especially to homoeoteleuton, naturally take place sometimes without destruction of sense: and all the analogies suggest that this is the real cause of the very few substantial omissions in B which could possibly be referred to a love of abbreviation.    As far as readings of any interest are concerned, we believe the text of B to be as free from [deliberate] curtailment as that of any other important document."
(Hort, p. 237).
Thus again, Hort insists that singular omissions, (and omissions generally), if demonstrated, are in virtually all cases accidental errors, not deliberate edits.  This is an important point, for it paints a consistent picture not only of singular errors (those which belong to B itself), but also of non-singular omissions, which on the very same basis have probably arisen from the very same transcriptional causes, in other earlier exemplars.