Monday, January 18, 2010

P.Oxy. 2383 (P69) and Theological Concerns

In the recent issue of Novum Testamentum, vol. 52 (2010):83-87, Claire Clivaz expresses "Some Remarks on Thomas A. Wayment, 'A New Transcription of P. Oxy. 2383 (P69)'." She first points out that Wayment's new transcription improves in regard to the reading in Lk 22:45 (recto, l.4-5), but then states that "[h]is overall assessment obscures yet the particularities of this small engimatic papyrus" because "Wayment misses the fact that P69 attests to a third version of the evidence for the Lukan prayer on the Mount of Olives: he does not consider the absence of Luke 22:42 in P69" (p. 83).

At the end of her brief article (p. 86) Clivaz finds "a trace of an answer" why Wayment does not accept P69 as the peculiar text it is:

In the online Religious Education Review of Brigham Young University (here), Wayment writes:
Interestingly, King Mosiah refers to a similar event in the Book of Mormon when he prophesied, “for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people” (Mosiah 3:7). Although these verses in the Book of Mormon cannot confirm the similar verses in the biblical account, they do testify that Jesus did indeed sweat drops of blood as part of His anguish for His people.

Clivaz concludes: "This parallel drawn by Wayment between the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 3:7) and Luke 22:44 is an indication of his theological concerns, which, as often happens in research on Luke 22:43-44, influences the consideration of the variant. My hope is that in the years to come the interesting P69 will attract the careful attention that it deserves" (p. 87).

So what is Clivaz' own opinion about the passage and what does she mean with a "third version" then? Apparently, she thinks that:
The word about the cup was the most problematic part of the prayer at Gethsemane in Antiquity,21 as already the Gospel of John shows by reworking it (see John 12:27 and 18:11). Instead of clarifying the debate about the evidence of Luke 22:43-44, P69 complicates it, but it is a good opportunity to grasp more and more the diversity of early Christian opinions about the prayer on the Mount of Olives. This diversity is precisely a difficult point for Wayment, in my opinion.

In an earlier article, "The Angel and the Sweat Like 'Drops of Blood' (Lk 22:43-44): P69 and f13", HTR 98 (2005): 419-440, she develops her thesis that P69 is as a witness to a Marcionite edition of Luke’s gospel. In that article she gives some background to research on P69 (pp. 425-27).

E.G. Turner (ed. pr.) thought that the copyist's exemplar did not contain 22:43-44 and that verse 42 was omitted during copying because of homoioteleuton (προσηυχετο, v. 41 to προσευχης, v. 45. Kurt Aland, on the other hand, thought the omission was deliberate, noting the free character of P69 elsewhere and the fact that 22:45a which ends the scene is omitted too. See Kurt Aland, “Alter und Enstehung des D-Textes im Neuen Testament. Betrachtungen zu P69 und 0171,” in Miscellània papirològica Ramón Roca-Puig (ed. Sebastià Janeras; Barcelona: Fundacio Salvador Vives Casajuana, 1987), 59.

Clivaz points out that "Aland’s purpose here is not to discuss P69 as a witness bearing on Luke 22: 43–44,65 but to stress the absence of Luke 22:42–45a, and so to classify P69 as 'paraphrastic,' like the D-text." Indeed, the Alands categorized P69 as a "very free text, characteristic of precursors of the D-text; therefore category IV" (Aland and Aland, The Text of the NT, 100).

Clivaz further develops Aland's argument, thinking that P69 "reflects a textual tradition that consciously omits the longer passage of Luke 22:42–45a (or Luke 22:42, 45a [depending on what was in the exemplar])" (p. 427). Clivaz argues that for "for readers in antiquity, Jesus’ demand that the cup pass from him was the most shocking element in the Gethsemane story" (428), i.e., it made Jesus look weak. When Celsus comments on the attack against the prayer at Gethsemane he says that “certain of the Christian believers, like persons who in a fit of drunkenness lay violent hands upon themselves, have corrupted the Gospel from its original integrity, to a threefold, and fourfold, and many-fold degree, and have remodeled it, so that they might be able to oppose negations to the objections.”

Clivaz says this proves the different versions of Jesus' prayer by the second half of the second century, and she thinks that "negating the objections" could imply that some scribes were omitting the "most shocking element," the word on the cup (p. 429). The strategy of omission, she suggests, would fit "only in a type of Christianity that preserved a single gospel, as did Marcion." Hence, she suggests that P69 could be read as "a fragment of Marcion’s redaction of the Gospel of Luke" (ibid.).

She concludes the section on P69 by stating that the omission was intentional, not accidental, and should be seen as a third way of reading the prayer on the Mount of Olives, and she urges scholars not to "continue to use P69 as a second early witness that omits Luke 22:43–44, in the same category as P75. Taking into account Celsus’s remark about the many changes in the textual traditions of the prayer at Gethsemane, we must abandon as dualistic and reductive such categories as 'docetic/anti-docetic' or 'Western tradition/Alexandrian tradition'." (p. 432).

One important question that I have after reading Clivaz' treatment of P69 concerns the reconstruction of v. 45b. Comfort and Barrett transcribes the recto, l. 4 (22:45b) ελθων προς τους μαθ]η̣τ̣[ας ευ. Turner, on the other hand, thought there was also a και at the beginning of the line (και ελθων κτλ). I think it is more difficult to postulate a conscious omission without that και. The text of P69 would seem a bit rough without it, και θεις τα γονατα προσηυχετο ελθων προς τους μαθητας ευρεν αυτους καθευδοντας κτλ.

Is there room for the και? I haven't got access to a good image (if someone sends me an image I will gladly put it up for discussion).

And what is your opinion about the large omission in P69?

Update: I just noted that Clivaz' thesis is about Luke 22:43-44, published in 2009 by Peeters (see here). She has also written a number of other articles on these and related verses in Luke 22 (see publication list here).

Update 2: If Wayment's more recent transcription of P69 is correct, it makes my question about και on line 4 redundant. See further Wieland Willker's treatment here (with images).