Evangelical Textual Criticism

Monday, December 21, 2009

Is This Really a Singular Reading in P64?

Today I have been working on P64. Take a look at the image of one of the fragment (frg. c) of P64.

In C. H. Roberts editio princeps he transcribes the second line (col. 2, verso frg. “c”) ι]β [ο] λεγομ[ενος (Matt 26:14) which is obviously erroneous.

K. S. Min points out, in his study of the Matthean papyri, that there is no space for the omicron and so transcribes ι]β λεγομ[ενος (followed by Comfort and Barrett).

The omission of the article would be a unique reading. However, the rounded bottom of the letter is a bit different from how the scribe wrote the letter beta elsewhere (twice in ��67). Further, the trace of the extant letter before λεγο[μενος could perhaps also be an omicron written in smaller size. The letter is admittedly written somewhat below the line, which speaks in favor of a beta.

On the other hand, there seems to be at least one other example of a smaller omicron in this manuscript, see this image of line 2, col. 1, recto of this fragment:

What is your opinion?

Update: I have uploaded a better image of P64 (col. 2, verso frg. “c”)


  1. The position for the putative beta is good. This scribe does write a high-ish omicron, which is probably why Roberts read what he did in the edition. The spacing is not ideal, but the scribe's practice is far from uniform: alpha / lambda tend to be written quite close to the following letter. I would check if there are any instances where the letter preceding lambda / alpha are written unusually close.
    I can't make sense out of λεγομενος Ιουδας etc. without the article (λεγομενος + Proper Noun is always articular in the ΝΤ (on TLG sv. λεγομενος).
    It is more difficult to assume a mistake iuxta lacunam than to allow for compressed spacing.

  2. Why is Roberts' transcription 'obviously erroneous'? I could imagine an omicron in that space (where there are ink traces around the hole).
    As a method issue I would be cautious about "creating" a unique reading in such a situation (i.e. one where we have not much other material by which we could guage scribal behaviour, and a damaged text at this point).

  3. Thank you G.W. and P.M.H. for the response! Thanks also to Darryl Yorimitsu who responded off-blog.

    I will follow G.W.'s suggestion and check in P64, P67 and also P4.

    I thought Robert's transcription was wrong because there is not any space for the omicron (so also in Min's judgment). I will update the main post with a better image because the initial one was not of very good quality.

    I have checked all the omicrons in P64 and P67 and there is no such small and high-ish one.

  4. The top image appears not to be the real P64, but a copy of some sort.
    The original looks different.

    I agree with Peter that I wouldn't create a unique reading here.

  5. Hi Wieland, I don't know exactly about the quality of the image. I had two different versions of that side, but this one was actually better.

    I also made up my mind to follow Roberts (contra e.g., Min).