Evangelical Textual Criticism

Friday, January 29, 2010

'today if you hear my oops ... (Heb 3.7 in P46)

P46 is very interesting at Heb 3.7, as can be seen in this picture. The original text of what the Holy Spirit says is presented as EAN THC FWNHC MOU.

Now it might just be possible to think of P46 as writing EAN THC FWNHC MOU AUTOU AKOUCHTE. Indeed this could be a conflate reading (since EAN THC FWNHC MOU AKOUCHTE is found in a single minuscule, 1319 I think). But I think Royse is spot on here (not only because he confirmed my instinctive interpretation of it), in seeing MOU as corrected by the scribe in the act of writing, with dots, deletion and a pause for thought (which happens after other corrections in P46) before the correct reading AUTOU. The agreement with 1319 is coincidental (or at least not genealogical).

But it is interesting that the scribe's instinct was to write MOU. This suggests that the scribe is an active participant in the representation of his text: thinking along with the text. Thinking aloud about what the Holy Spirit is saying. Perhaps he does not at first recognise this as an OT citation. Or perhaps he did recognise it and anticipated the first person pronouns to follow ('my ways ... my wrath ... my rest', v10f). Who knows.

But the process is controlled by his desire to present accurately the text of his exemplar, hence the correction. See the detail here:


  1. This, in my opinion, strengthens the case for the omission of OLW in Heb 3.2. Either the scribe was keen to make a good copy and/or he indeed knew his LXX (which would be telling in case of Heb 3.2).

  2. Pete, I hope you tell the readers when the jigsaw is complete, so they can piece together the whole Hebrews in P46 from the posted images. What a great pastime!

  3. There won't be enough pieces for a proper jig-saw. Images from Michigan can be tracked here: http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2006/01/images-of-p46-michigan-portions.html

    Images from Dublin are not yet on-line (I was told when I visited a year or so ago that they had taken good quality digital images).

    Hebrews is divided between the two institutions.

  4. Head: "the scribe's instinct was to write MOU. This suggests that the scribe is an active participant in the representation of his text: thinking along with the text."

    Actually, the MOU originally written by the scribe of p46* in 3:7 very easily could have been unconsciously influenced by the otherwise awkward shift to first person that occurs in the remainder of the quotation, Heb 3:9ff (where MOU occurs twice more).

    Given that the original scribe seems to have immediately corrected his error, writing AUTOU and erasing MOU, unintentional attraction seems far more likely than intentionally being "an active participant" in such a case.

  5. Dublin has a bifolium of p46 on its page of "Western" images:

    But even better yet, all 172 images of p46 (only one is poor quality) are available at:

    Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the thumbnails. You may need to register first.

  6. Beginning with KAQWC:

    "Just as he says (note the 'foot' in the iota of legei), the sign (note the 'way' the rho is written in CHMEPON; it is a combination of several letters) of the Holy Spirit"

    Now, note how MOY is written below "Holy".

    MOY is a sign of the Holy Spirit.

    Where else do you hear MOY?

    This is a circumlocution for the author of P46 to claim authority. The claim is that whoever wrote P46 was aware of the Truth. I strongly suggest that you depart from P46 and find its exemplar.