Friday, December 09, 2011

The Christmas Story (Part 1)

14 Comments:

Darrell said...

nice image of P1.

Jonathan C. Borland said...

Perhaps γενεσις (in the pic, end of first line and beginning of second) represents an orthodox corruption? Contrary to Ehrman's suggestion (Orthodox Corruption, pp. 75-6), it seems it was actually the term γενεσις that the orthodox preferred to use in their arguments, and not the other way around. I wrote up a little note on this passage: Matt 1:18 γεννησις: A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament.

P.J. Williams said...

Jonathan, are there any universally agreed orthodox corruptions? Is there consensus that the category is valid?

Jonathan C. Borland said...

Dear Dr. Williams,

I think there is consensus that the category is valid, but no consensus on which variants should be in the category!

I've written up a couple notes on two passages, for the sake of example, that I think should be included in the category.

Matt 4:10 οπισω μου
Matt 5:22 εικη

I think the best candidates for inclusion are those for which there is patristic evidence discussing why one reading should be rejected because of its unorthodoxy. The notes above exemplify two such readings that I believe should rather be accepted because of vocal orthodox attacks against them.

Sincerely,

Jonathan C. Borland

Peter M. Head said...

GENESIS/GENNHSIS variants occur at Matt 1.18 and also at Luke 1.14. In addition there is regular confusion between the verbal forms -GEN- and -GENN- (e.g. at Rom 1.3; Gal 4.4). I think these ought to be considered together, in the light of some overlap in the semantic range of the terms and the clear potential for confusion between the terms.

I think Ehrman's treatment of this verse is instructive (OCS, 75f), since he here (in my view typically) underplays the likelihood of an error (or at least interference) at the level of orthography and/or phonetics (on the false basis that this is unlikely in view of the nature of the external evidence, since 'both variants appear in wide stretches of the textual tradition'); and secondly (typically) conjectures an overly specific scribal motivation to account for the variant as orthodox corruption. Ehrman's orthodox corruption is here imposed on the evidence, not observed in the evidence.

By the way I agree with JCB to the extent that the best examples of the scribal tendency occur when textual evidence can be connected with patristic testimony/evidence (as with Ehrman's own best cases).

P.J. Williams said...

Peter, So would you care to list what you think are the top cases of Orthodox Corruption? I agree that variants can sometimes be correlated with patristic debates, and I know that some of Ehrman's discussions work without necessarily appealing to scribal intentionality.

Peter M. Head said...

1 John 4.3 seemed to be a good argument - although the details are a bit hazy.

P.J. Williams said...

Oh, please!

To quote Ehrman: 'Despite the widespread endorsement of this less attested reading [ho luei], there are compelling reasons to reject it as a corruption of the text, made in direct opposition to Gnostic Christologies ...' (Orthodox Corruption, 1st edn, p. 125).

Of course Ehrman still toys with it being an orthodox corruption. It was most probably originally 'a recapitulation of the text's "meaning" ... that was later incorporated as an orthodox corruption' (p. 134).

If we follow Ehrman (pp. 134-35), we have to suppose that (step 1) a theologian decided to interpret a straightforward text [ho mh homologei] by an obscure one [ho luei], which just happened to share the same beginning and ending and to have a sequence of alternating omicrons and mus. (step 2) This then found its way from theological discourse into the margin of a manuscript and thence (step 3) into the main text of some manuscripts.

Is that really his best example?

I'm sorry but I can't see what's persuasive about this complex scenario.

I'm struck by just how commonly alleged orthodox corruptions look so similar graphically to their alternatives. What's wrong with the good old lapsus calami explanation?

Bob Relyea said...

> I'm struck by just how commonly alleged
> orthodox corruptions look so similar
> graphically to their alternatives.
> What's wrong with the good old lapsus
> calami explanation?

My favorite is I Timothy 3:16, where the even though the corrupt reading is really juicy from an orthodox point of view (explaining it's rapid acceptance in the manuscript tradition), the "slip of the pen" explanation still makes the most since, particularly since we have one case (02) where we see the omicron turn into a theta from bleed-through from the other side of the parchment, so we have at least one case where the reading was clearly not intentionally generated. One then wonders how many other times this happened.

bob

Simon Gathercole said...

Weird that the orthodox preferred genesis, which can only be from the influence of the biblical text - Matt. 1.1 as well as 1.18 presumably. Any educated person in antiquity would have been familiar with the genesis-phthora cycle, and so it might have been natural to avoid genesis language - just as Acts insists that Jesus did not see (dia)phthora.

Peter M. Head said...

1 John 4.3 seems a good example to me (OCS, 125-135; and an earlier article which was an important point in the development of the Ehrman view). The variant reading with LUEI occurs (and probably originates) in patristic discussions of christological controversies. Of course it made practically zero impact on the Greek manuscript tradition.

Jonathan C. Borland said...
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Jonathan C. Borland said...
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Jonathan C. Borland said...

(Reposting to fix a link. Sorry!)

Simon Gathercole: "Weird that the orthodox preferred genesis, which can only be from the influence of the biblical text - Matt. 1.1 as well as 1.18 presumably."

Actually, the initial orthodox corruption toward γενεσις is quite what one might expect given the apostolic warnings against docetic views (cf. 1 John 4:2,3; 2 John 7). And so γενεσις became popular in some orthodox circles to prove the genesis of Christ's body or "temple" but obviously not of his existence. See my note mentioned earlier: Matt 1:18 γενεσις: A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament . However, as so often happened, the unorthodox took this neo-popular proof-text and twisted it for their own purposes. The orthodox preference for γενεσις, along with the natural confusion between the two noun and verb forms as Dr. Head mentioned, made a good showing but eventually fizzled out to the earliest attested reading, namely, γεννησις.

Sincerely,

Jonathan C. Borland