Evangelical Textual Criticism

Friday, September 25, 2009

Reading Marks in P46 (Heb 2.5-8)

Secondary reading marks occur in various places throughout the Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri. There are a couple previously in Hebrews, but they kick in quite consistently at 2.5 (see the picture below). In general they serve to mark the thought units within the OT citation (Ps 8.5-7) - it is less clear to me what is going on in v5 (as if it were me I would place a mark after MELLOUSAN to separate the prepositional clause).

One interesting feature of P46 here is the reading TIS in v6 (it is masc. suggesting a personal question: 'who?', as opposed to TI which is neut., 'what?') [which, of course could be original to Hebrews since it is not assimilated to the LXX, which in most witnesses has TI]
Anyway Zuntz had an ingenious theory that v6 in P46 (reading TIS) consisted of a question and an answer: 'Who is the man whom Thou mindest?' 'Truly the Son of Man, for him Thou visitest.' Among the various objections to this (from style, theology, syntax), perhaps we could make two objections from P46 itself: firstly, whoever put in the reading marks surely did not recognise the two clauses as question and answer since then we would expect an extra reading mark (as it is the marks seem to treat the double clause as a unit, suggesting parallelism as normally taken); and secondly, that if P46 had wanted to indicate that 'Man' and 'Son of Man' were christological titles it could have used nomina sacra for ANQRWPOS.


  1. So just for fun, I compared the reading marks in p46 with the colon punctuation in p13. I just checked the parts of p46 page 44 (ΜΔ) which overlaps with p13 column 47 (μζ). I found 13 places where either p46 had a reading point an p13 had a colon.

    5 places they coincided completely.
    2 places p46 had a point, but p13 had no colon.
    4 places where p46 had a point, but p13 had a lacuna
    1 place where p13 had a point, but it wasn't clear if p46 had one (there's a smudge, both papyri are pretty damaged at this point.)

    The last point is between αυτον and ως κε Μουσησ at line 15 of p13- column 47.

    Greenfield and Hunt called these στιχοι, though they probably mean it in the "sense lines" sense rather than "standard count of character" sense. They believed that it was probably copied from it's exemplar. They also claimed p13 roughly coincided with the sense lines in Blass ("Brief an die Hebräer"), though I don't have a copy to verify exactly how "roughly", or figure out what how Blass decided to break up his text (not that access would help me since I'd have to find a way to translate the German first:).

    Tonight I can do a much fuller comparison of the reading marks in p46 and p13 to see how much correspondence they really have. If p13 was copied from it's exemplar, it might be that p46 did so as well (or from some other exemplar) which had narrower columns than p13's source, and thus a more frequent need to break the lines up?


  2. With respect to "the marks" here in P46 above TO NOY (the one above "pi tau" looks more like a metobelisk), my suggestion would be to go back and read the parable of the sower in the original autograph.



    Mark 7Thunderson >dn<

  3. You wrote that "if P46 had wanted to indicate that ‘Man’ and ‘Son of Man’ were christological titles it could have used nomina sacra for ANQRWPOS." I took this up in a post on my blog. But Sue pointed out in a comment there that a nomen sacrum is used for huios. Doesn't this imply that "son of man" was in fact understood as a christological title, and so undermine your whole argument? Or is there something happening which this non-expert doesn't understand?

    I would also be interested in any evidence of whether in other MSS nomina sacra are regularly used for "son of man" here, or regularly avoided when they could have been used.

  4. Another small point which Sue noticed: you have wrongly claimed that the pronoun tis is "masc." Of course in this case its referent is masculine, not feminine. But also yesterday I made a point of noting that this pronoun is "genderless". Of course that is not quite correct either: it has two forms, one either masculine or feminine and the other neuter. But it is certainly an error to state as you do that the pronoun in itself is masculine rather than feminine.

  5. Peter K

    I think PH is quite correct when he says TIS is masc. The gender of TIS is taken from its antecedent (which will be either masc or fem). If the antecedent is masc then TIS is masc. Your point is well-taken if TIS and TIS alone is found in a vacuum without an antecedent, but not in this passage.

    The nomina sacra need not be employed to indicate a messianic title; often scribes would copy exactly what they saw on the vorlage.

  6. Anonymous, I see your point. But somehow it doesn't really work. Consider the NA27 text here which has ti rather than tis, but still agreeing with anthropos (and I accept that anthropos here is masculine, not the rare feminine, because of the following autou). Now ti is of course normally the neuter form. But is it in fact masculine here because its referent is masculine? Is there a grammatical error here? Perhaps, and that might be why P46 corrected to tis. But the subject and complement of estin do not always agree in gender. If so you would have to claim that ego in John 14:6 is feminine, despite referring to Jesus! I think it is far better to refer to pronouns like these as common or unmarked gender.

    Of course I recognise that the P46 scribe may simply have been copying a Vorlage. But there must have been some first scribe to use the nomen sacrum here, if not this scribe then a copyist earlier than P46, or perhaps the original author. So the point is that someone before about 200 AD thought that this was a messianic reference - or perhaps not.

  7. PK

    You said: Now ti is of course normally the neuter form. But is it in fact masculine here because its referent is masculine?

    This is incorrect, and a rather odd comment assuming you are Greek savvy. TI is neuter here in Heb 2,6 and its antecedent is masc, ANTHRWPOS. This is not an uncommon grammatical structure. TI here has as its antecedent 'mankind' and is asking a WHAT question (which requires a neuter pronoun), not a WHO question.

    I think PH already refers to this in his opening post. In the event I'm completely misunderstanding you, I apologize, but I really don't see this verse as controversial or a grammatical anomaly, not with the TI anyway.

  8. It is quite true of course that TIS is unmarked in terms of distinction between masc. and fem. So in that sense one might say that the contrast is between personal (TIS) and impersonal (TI). I wasn't really thinking beyond offering a brief explanation for readers (although I also appreciate the points made already in my defence - i.e. that here TIS is used in agreement with masc. nouns). I recognise that these verses are tricky to translate in gender accurate and inclusive ways - that is an interesting discussion that Peter Kirk is having on his blog.

  9. On the nomina sacra I stand by what I said in the post (of course). I doubt whether interpretive issues can be decided by such an appeal though, unless there are very consistent usage patterns in the particular manuscript.
    In this case (P46): ANQRWPOS is generally written in full and is contracted as NS only four times (all of which are plural and not obviously christological - 1 Cor 3.21; 4.9; 2 Cor 8.21; Eph 3.5)
    UIOS (sg.) is in full six times and contracted as NS around fourteen times (8 times with three letters; 6 times with two letters).
    The combination never occurs elsewhere in P46.