Evangelical Textual Criticism

Saturday, December 03, 2005

To what extent is the Byzantine text smooth?

I'm working my way through the revised edition of Robinson and Pierpont (I'll give a full report when I get to the end) and am coming across cases where arguably what is printed is less smooth than what is found outside the Byzantine tradition. In Mark 13:31 Robinson and Pierpont print Ο ουρανος και η γη παρελευσεται using a singular verb for a compound object. They note marginally the Byzantine variant παρελευσονται, which is of course the reading of enough of the textual tradition for NA27 not even to note the variant.

I have two questions: (a) is what Robinson and Pierpont print indeed less smooth? (b) if so, are there other cases where less smooth readings within the Byzantine tradition are not noted in critical editions?

8 comments:

  1. According to Kruger-Cooper (Attic Greek Prose Syntax 63.4.2) a singular verb can be used with a compound subject for any one of several reasons. The singular verb can agree with the nearest subject or it can agree with the most important subject.

    Also a compound subject where both terms represent a unified idea can take a singular verb.
    ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ = ὁ κόσμος

    Matt. 24:35 ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ παρελεύσεται

    According to Kruger-Cooper there is nothing irregular about this.

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  2. This certainly confirms that both the singular and the plural verb forms are within the boundaries of acceptability, but I should still like more information about whether there was a preferred style.

    The reference to Matthew 24:35 only brings about further confusion since there Byz reads παρελευσονται. Thus Byz reads the opposite of txt in both Mark 13:32 and Matthew 24:35.

    The singular in Byz of Mark could be explained as assimilation to the Matthean parallel, but then the plural in txt could itself be explained as an assimilation to παρελευσονται later in the verse.

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  3. PJW wrote:

    "Thus Byz reads the opposite of txt in both Mark 13:32 and Matthew 24:35."

    Which is a good signal that the plural/singular here is a matter of indifference. Note some data from the LXX.

    Gen. 2:1 καὶ συνετελέσθησαν ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ

    In Genesis 2:1 we have a plural verb which renders a plural ויכלו.

    Joel 4:16 σεισθήσεται ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ
    In Joel 4:16 we have a singular verb which renders a plural ורעשׁו.

    1Mac. 2:37 μαρτυρεῖ ἐφ᾿ ἡμᾶς ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ ἡ γῆ

    In 1Mac 2:37 we have a singular verb.

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  4. Thanks. However, I wonder if there are as many examples where the verb follows the subject as in Matthew 24:35 par. It is certainly the case that in Hebrew and Syriac a singular verb with a compound subject is more likely when the verb precedes the subject. My impression is that things are the same in Greek.

    BTW your Greek letters with accents and breathings do not come out on my browser. I'm not sure how widespread this problem is. I'm running IE6.

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  5. That is a good point. I wonder if the word order constraint applies when the compound subject functions as a single idea?

    hO OURANOS KAI hH GH = hO KOSMOS

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  6. PJW wrote: "I wonder if there are as many examples where the verb follows the subject ..."

    Here are four samples of the syntax: noun nom kai noun nom verb 3rd per. sing

    MATT. 6:19 hOPOU SHS KAI BRWSIS AFANIZEI

    MATT. 16:17 hOTI SARX KAI hAIMA OUK APEKALUYEN SOI

    MARK 4:41 KAI hO ANEMOS KAI hH QALASSA hUPAKOUEI AUTWi;

    TITUS 3:4 hOTE DE hH CRHSTOTHS KAI hH FILANQRWPIA EPEFANH

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  7. Thanks for these instructive examples. In each case the semantic relationship between the members of the pair seems fairly close.

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  8. I think the editors are following general rules when the Byzantine tradition is fairly evenly divided on a given reading. In this case, it is the non-harmonistic reading (within the Byzantine tradition).

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