We're a bit short on discussion of readings in this blog so far...
In Nestle-Aland 27 it is suggested that in Luke 24:51 και ανεφερετο εις τον ουρανον is omitted by two major uncials, Old Latin witnesses and the Sinaitic Syriac. This is significant since it is the only clear indication of a vertical element in the ascension within Luke. This is also one of the many cases where Old Latin and Syriac witnesses are supposed to agree. In fact the Syriac does not omit και ανεφερετο since it has a verb involving vertical elevation that would not be used just to translate διεστη.
What to me is more interesting is the misleading way the information is presented. Immediately before και ανεφερετο εις τον ουρανον is αυτων ending with ν. The sequence of letters at the initial boundary of the phrase is thus νκαια. This is also the sequence that occurs at the final boundary of the phrase when the final ν of ουρανον is taken with the following και αυτοι. Thus the omission of the phrase can be explained as a parablepsis from νκαια to νκαια. Nestle-Aland inevitably put the omission marks round a whole grammatical unit. While I can see that as editors they had little choice about this, it is misleading if this is taken as an indication of what unit might actually have been omitted within a manuscript.
What is fascinating about this variant is that the omission is so readily explained by mechanical means. It seems to me that whole swathes of textual criticism work on the assumption that if there is a mechanical explanation for a variant and a theological explanation for a variant then the theological one is preferable. This assumption sometimes combines with a predisposition to see doctrinal development in early variants and results in a preference for readings that have no compelling reason to be taken as original.
This raises a wider question: how many of the variants that are alleged to arise from theological Tendenz could be explained as merely mechanical? The theory that says that theology is the predominant cause of variation would surely predict that there would be many variations for which a theological explanation was possible but for which no mechanical explanation was possible.
Over to you guys.