Thursday, January 19, 2006

Play it again[, Sam]

I often read discussions of Patristic citations that assume that, if two or more church fathers cite a passage a particular way, there must have been Greek manuscripts that supported that reading (even if none are extant today).

This seems to me to be a questionable supposition since there is often a strong oral tradition of citation that is independent of the what is written in copies of the scriptures.

I'm looking for examples, ancient or modern, of the phenomenon whereby, as in Casablanca (see title of this post), the way something is regularly cited is divergent from the original.

From the Rime of the Ancient Mariner we have:

'Water, water every where, and not a [original: Nor any] drop to drink.' (9,400 Google hits)

From the Bible we have:

'helpmeet' (Gen. 2:18; 'meet' belongs with the following phrase, i.e. 'meet for him')

and

'Our Father who [KJV: which] art in heaven'—has any Bible ever printed 'who art'?

There is also the case of the 'Rich Young Ruler'.

How common is this phenomenon? How common was it in the Patristic period and what criteria could we use to find out?

10 Comments:

Anonymous said...

"I'm looking for examples, ancient or modern, of the phenomenon whereby, as in Casablanca (see title of this post), the way something is regularly cited is divergent from the original"

http://www.filmsite.org/moments02.html

P J Williams said...

Thanks, Anon. Now all we need to do is start (or find) a site for Bible misquotations—the real Misquoting Jesus.

C. Stirling Bartholomew said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
C. Stirling Bartholomew said...

Bob Dylan - All Along the Watchtower

Two riders were approaching
and the wind began to howl

Jimi Hendrix - All Along the Watchtower

Two riders were approaching
and the wind *begin* to howl

A lot lyrics sources correct Hendrix to "began" but all you have to do is listen to the recording.

Anonymous said...

On a related note a new book building on the Oxford committes 1905 publication:

Reception Of The New Testament In The Apostolic Fathers, 2005.

The papers by Ehrman and Petersen are particulalry interesting, especially so regarding the accuracy of memorisation and citation.

P J Williams said...

Thanks—with a fine price label on too!

Peter M. Head said...

Some of these will be Mondegreens I would think.

Daniel Buck said...

Here's one from Proverbs 16:18:
"Pride goes before [destruction, and a haughty spirit before] a fall"

The Buck Stops said...

Or from Doyle:
"Elementary, [my dear] Watson."

Anonymous said...

'Who art' in the Lord's Prayer may just be an American 'declension': Both the 1901 American Standard Version and my American editions of the venerable RSV print, 'Our Father who art in heaven...'.