Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mark 1:41

In a comment to the previous post Peter Kirk raised the following question:

"Why is it that, whereas this text is widely rejected as not original, it is widely accepted at Mark 1:41, οργισθεις rather than σπλαγχνισθεις? That is, apparently most recent commentators, although not the Nestle-Aland and UBS text, prefer here a reading which is found only in the Western Text."

This topic is recently covered by Ehrman in Misquoting Jesus (pp. 133-139) where he cites his 'A Sinner in the hands of an Angry Jesus', in New Testament Greek and Exegesis: Essays in Honor of Gerald F. Hawthorne, ed. Amy M. Donaldson and Timothy B. Sailors (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003).

Of course much is made of the fact that one cannot imagine a scribe changing 'compassion' into 'anger', whereas one can imagine the reverse. Moreover, we know from Mark 3:5 that Jesus in Mark could be angry. Matthew and Luke, who omit the word in their use of Mark, are further cited as authority that the word was distasteful.

However, if Matthew uses Mark he often abbreviates him anyway. The same could be said for Luke. Accidental corruption is perfectly possible in Greek (and in Latin: autem miser(a)tus > autem iratus). There are many readings in D and the Old Latin witnesses that are difficult to explain but a great many scribal corruptions follow no pattern and therefore cannot be 'explained'.

29 Comments:

Christian Askeland said...

I think that the most likely sort of mistake would be one with no grammatical flaw. I.e. a scribe who writes σπαλγχνισθεὶς will probably have his mistake corrected by the next scribe. A scribe however who accidentally substitutes an entire word, will not only miss his own mistake, but will produce a mistake which will not be caught.

What kind of evidence is there for a "nicification" of Jesus in the 4th and following centuries? The Constantinian Jesus was pictured in terms of Sol Invictus and was tied to his military victories.

Used in this way, the lectio difficilior would argue in favor of most conspiracy theories... e.g. that the lunar landings were faked.

Peter M. Head said...

Have we not discussed this passage before?

Peter M. Head said...

Peter Kirk's question was broader: why is that although the Western text as a whole is often regarded as secondary, some readings supported by Western witnesses are nevertheless preferred (by some scholars)?

The basic answer to this has several dimensions.
a) The Western text is a very ancient text; it definitely existed in the second century.
b) The Western text often exhibits expansionist tendencies (smoothing, explaining, theologising etc., as in Acts); but when it contains readings that are not smoothed or expanded it is regarded as important (as e.g. Hort and the Western non-interpolations, esp in Luke's passion narrative).
c) The basic argument concerns the preference for the more difficult reading, the reading which explains the other readings.
d) Background problem re Mark is our relative paucity of early evidence.

Stephen C. Carlson said...

Biblioblogger Loren Rosson uses a social scientific approach to argue that, contra Ehrman, an angry Jesus is the easier reading; see The Angry Healer (Dec. 20, 2005).

Andrew Wilson said...

Slightly off-topic, but PMH mentioned the Western text's expansionist tendencies. The case of Acts is well known.

My question is, Is there any way of quantifying this outside of Acts? E.g. Is there any way of counting Bezae's number of words in the Gospels? In my experience with Bezae's singular readings, there are roughly as many additions and omissions in the gospels. However the additions are sometimes longer, in contrast to the omissions which are more often shorter stretches of text.

Is there any electronic text of Bezae that could be put through a word-count programme?

Anonymous said...

While the Western text is under review here, it is quite significant that Theodore Beza himself rejected the reading of both D and d and translated Mark 1:41 thus:

Iesus autem commiseratione intima commotus, extensa manu tetigit eum, et dixit ei, volo; purgator

Beza translates Mark 3:5 thus:

Et quum circumspexisset eos cum ira, simul dolens quod occalluisset cor eorum, dicit homini, extende manum tuam. Et is extendit; restitutaque est manus eius sala ut alters.

I think this verse is a good example of the ars that is necessary for the text critic to possess and exhibit in the interpretive process based upon the available historical textual data.

Anonymous said...

While the Western text is under review here, it is quite significant that Theodore Beza himself rejected the reading of both D and d and translated Mark 1:41 thus:

Iesus autem commiseratione intima commotus, extensa manu tetigit eum, et dixit ei, volo; purgator

Beza translates Mark 3:5 thus:

Et quum circumspexisset eos cum ira, simul dolens quod occalluisset cor eorum, dicit homini, extende manum tuam. Et is extendit; restitutaque est manus eius sala ut alters.

I think this verse is a good example of the ars that is necessary for the text critic to possess and exhibit in the interpretive process based upon the available historical textual data.

Malcolm

James Snapp, Jr. said...

First, in addition to my previous comments about Mark 1:41, here's what I said in the annotated edition of the Greek Uncial Archetype of Mark:

"This variant may indicate that the "Western" Text of Mark was formed in a transmission-stream in which the text was translated into Syriac and then retranslated from Syriac into Greek. The word SPLANCHNISQEIS was translated as ethraham (he had pity), and was mistakenly copied as ethra'em (he was indignant), which was re-translated into Greek as ORGISQEIS. Ephrem-Syrus (-373) mentioned such a variant in his commentary on the Diatessaron."

(Chase wrote a book called "The Syriac Element in Codex Bezae," or something like that, providing other examples of this sort of thing.)

Now then: Why have some evangelicals -- such as the 15-member team that produced the TNIV -- accepted this Western reading in particular while rejecting the Western Text in general? I think it's mainly because they have become so accustomed to choosing according to internal evidence that they have neglected to sufficiently consider the nature of the source of the variants. If someone just puts these two variants side-by-side and walks through the "diffficult-is-more-likely-to-be original" canon, and the which-reading-explains-the-other canon, he is much more likely to say, "Yeah; obviously some copyist didn't want people to think Jesus was angry; that's the difficult reading; so he changed that to 'compassionate.'"

But if a person is informed that Codex Bezae has, as Chase put it, a "Syriac element," and if a person thinks through what the likely effects of a Syriac rendering of this passage would be upon a copyist whose first language was Syriac, then he would probably also ask, "Which is more likely to display corruptions based on retrotranslations from Syriac -- 99.99% of the Greek MSS, or Codex D?" then he would answer, "Codex D,” and this would augment that case that in Mk. 1:41 there's a Syriac-based corruption in the ancestral text of Codex D, which accounts for the Old Latin evidence as well. Somewhere in the second century -- maybe in the Diatessaron -- two similar-sounding words were confused, with the result that "splangchnisqeis" became "ethraham" became "ethra'em" became "orgisqeis."

But how many people, even after reading Metzger's observations, are going to spontaneously think that through??

There's a secondary reason, too: I think that some evangelicals have been more willing to accept this reading because they realize that they can. That is, they have exhausted their research prematurely because they think that the idea of Jesus getting angry at the leper can be turned to an evangelical advantage: it shows (i.e., it is interpreted to show) that Mark's report is Petrine; only an eyewitness would record such a detail. As for the problem of Jesus getting angry at the leper, that can be accounted for: the leper was daring Jesus, or, the leper's request for a public healing was bound to interfere with Jesus' preaching-agenda, or the leper phrased his request in a way which expressed doubt about Jesus' character, or whatnot. An apology for Jesus' anger is easy to construct -- and once that has been done, the "orgisqeis" reading bolsters the case for the historical reliability of the Gospel of Mark.

But that doesn't make it the original reading.

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.
(Jan. 16, 2007)

P J Williams said...

Jim, Fred Chase made interesting observations about commonalities between Bezae and the Syriac, but his argument that Bezae has elements that have come from Syriac is without convincing examples. Bezan readings may show Semitic influence, but there are various possibilities as to what that might be and how such readings might arise.

sjgathers said...

The Latin corruption noted by PJW could be even easier:

AUTEM MISERATUS
becoming
AUTEM IS IRATUS

?!

Gathers

Peter M. Head said...

AW asked: "Is there any electronic text of Bezae that could be put through a word-count programme?"
The link on the previous ETC post about the Western text seems to be to an electronic text of Bezae.

Peter M. Head said...

Re Beza: I think it is well known that Beza didn't really know what to do with the readings he found in D: 'I have found such a great discrepancy between this manuscript and any others however old that I would think that it is better to store it than to publish it ...'
See J. Krans, Beyond What is Written (2006), 227-236 on Beza's use of D.

Peter M. Head said...

PJW suggested: "if Matthew uses Mark he often abbreviates him anyway. The same could be said for Luke."
True as a generalisation, but not in connection with "compassion" - which Matthew (leaving this passage aside) takes over whenever it occurs in Mark and adds in additional places. For a fascinating discussion of Jesus' messianic compassion in Matthew see Head, Christology and the Synoptic Problem (1997), 108-11. The previous section on the presentation of Jesus' emotions in the synoptic gospels is also relevant (pp. 98-108).

Anonymous said...

"The link on the previous ETC post about the Western text seems to be to an electronic text of Bezae."

Unfortunately, most of the links on that site are broken.

Eric Rowe said...

How can we know which variant readings in D are really Western readings and which are idiosyncratic of the manuscript or come from somewhere other than the presumed Western influence on it? Isn't it better in this case to describe the reading in question as a reading found in D, rather than necessarily a "Western" reading?

Anonymous said...

"Is there any electronic text of Bezae that could be put through a word-count programme?"

The online version of Bezae has a number of problems that make a true comparison difficult, especially if we are comparing to a printed Greek text. Asterisks represent illegible words, and nomina sacra are present. Notwithstanding, I tried a quick test. Here are the figures for number of characters in chapter 1:

UBS: 2637
Byz: 2650
Bezae: 2687

Chapter 5:
UBS: 3948
Byz: 4006
Bezae: 4210

These figures would _seem_ to confirm the general impression of Bezae as a longer text (at least in Acts). The text of Bezae is longer even given the missing words and compressed divine names.

Casey Perkins

Anonymous said...

"The text of Bezae is longer even given the missing words and compressed divine names."

"Missing" should be "illegible".

Casey

Peter Kirk said...

Thank you for all your comments, and the link to Loren Rosson. Although I don't have any theological problems with Jesus being angry here, I still think the evidence for this reading is very thin.

If you had discussed this verse before, it wasn't in your "index locorum", actually still isn't. Also I can't find anything in a blog search, except for passing mention in reviews of Ehrman's work.

USpace said...

Very thought provoking...


absurd thought -
God of the Universe does
not believe in religion
.

P J Williams said...

Alas, I have not kept the index locorum up-to-date. Any volunteers willing to find all the references and the URLs of the various posts would be great! I someone did enough we could even give the title: 'honorary compiler of indices'.

Peter M. Head said...

I think it was probably my mistake - this passage has been discussed at length on the textual criticism discussion group (with several contributors from this blog).

Jan Krans said...

Re: Beza and Codex Bezae
Thanks for the reference to my NTTS volume, Peter. In general it is not sufficient to point out Beza's Latin translation (or his Greek text), to observe that it differs from D (05) and to simply conclude that he rejects that D reading. For such a conclusion, an explicit annotation by Beza is required, if only because more often than not Beza's Greek and Latin texts antedate his acquaintance with D. BTW, an interesting project for a PhD project would be to investigate the marginal annotations in Beza's own copy of his 1565 edition (which is in Geneva).

James Snapp, Jr. said...

Just to tie up a couple of loose ends:

A copyist's familiarity with a Syriac Diatessaron that read "angry" would be a simple trigger for the production of "orgisqeis." Several other unique variants in D are explained elegantly by the same mechanism. Granting that this sort of thing is hard to lock down, I like this explanation.

SJ Gathers mentioned that a Latin corruption could easily occur:

AUTEM MISERATUS
becoming
AUTEM IS IRATUS

but _IS_ isn't in 1:41 in D, is it?

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.
(Jan. 18, 2007)

Anonymous said...

Jim commented:
"SJ Gathers mentioned that a Latin corruption could easily occur:

AUTEM MISERATUS
becoming
AUTEM IS IRATUS

but _IS_ isn't in 1:41 in D, is it?

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.
(Jan. 18, 2007)

_______________

No but the corrupted Vorlage may very easily have originally read

autem miseratus

but through corruption read

aute[m][m]is[e]ratus

which reasonably explains the origin of this variant.

Malcolm

Andrew Wilson said...

I am doing some work on Luke 10 at the moment, so I used the text of Bezae from the Bezae website Peter mentioned, and after deleting verse numbers and asterisks (which seem to denote omissions - look at all of them!), I arrived at a figure of 765 words for Bezae in that chapter (using Microsoft Word's count function). That compares with the Westcott Hort text of 789 words and Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine text of 804 words (both using Bibleworks word count facility).

My preliminary count of singular readings in Bezae in Luke 10 is 14 omissions to 2 additions (based on the IGNTP volumes for Luke).

Elsewhere in the gospels, Bezae seems to have roughly the same number of omissions as additions. For example ...

In 10 chapters of Matthew (Chs 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 26), my count for Bezae has 36 omissions to 32 additions among singular readings.

In 4 chapters of Mark (Chs 1, 2, 3, 6) Bezae has 29 omissions to 39 additions among singular readings.

In 3 chapters of John (Chs. 4, 7, 9), Bezae has 15 omissions and 9 additions among singular readings.

So, I would not be surprised if Bezae reputation for expansion is really only true for Acts - in the rest of the Gospels it seems to be a case of guilt by association.

Eric Rowe said...

I'm confused. Casey's earlier description of the online Bezae text said the asterisks respresent illegible words, in which case it has a relatively long text. Andrew says they represent omissions, in which case it has a relatively short text. Which is right?

Anonymous said...

"Andrew says they represent omissions, in which case it has a relatively short text. Which is right?"

Both, quite possibly. My rough-and-ready "study" only counted characters in Acts 1 and 5 (and I limited my observations about the results to that book), whereas Andrew concentrated on the gospels. And, as he says: "So, I would not be surprised if Bezae reputation for expansion is really only true for Acts - in the rest of the Gospels it seems to be a case of guilt by association."


"Casey's earlier description of the online Bezae text said the asterisks respresent illegible words, in which case it has a relatively long text."

Since I don't read French and couldn't read any information presented about the conventions being used, I made a reasonable inference about the asterisks (as did Andrew, though he came to different conclusion) which may not have been correct. I should have made that clear.

To know which guess is correct, we would need to check Swanson. (Anyone have it close at hand?). I'm still guessing that it's right, for if the asterisks represent omissions, one might ask, omissions against what text? And why don't they indicate _other_ kinds differences besides omissions?

Either way, though, my character count came out as significantly longer than Byz or UBS for those chapters, for nonexistent characters (whether omissions or not readable due to illegibility) were not counted.

Casey

Andrew Wilson said...

I compared the online Bezae text against Swanson, which led me to surmise that the asterisks represent omissions. Some of the asterisks seem to represent partial omissions, however, see sunantilambano (NA27) near to the end of the Mary and Martha story at the end of Luke 10 where Bezae drops off one of the prefixes (can't remember whether its sun or anti at the moment). However, some of the double asterisks do not seem to be omissions at all. I would guess that the asterisks represent omissions against a NA27 base text.

Other types of textual variants seem to be represented by bold typeface.

Bear in mind, too, that Luke 10 was simply the first chapter I happened to pick on; more chapters would need to be investigated to get a more general impression of Bezae's length.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Andrew.

Casey