Evangelical Textual Criticism

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Tricky Variant in Acts and Some Musings on NA28/27

Working on a variant in Acts 17, I was faced with a whole set of issues, and was glad that this was in some sense also true for the editors of NA27/28.

Here is the text from Acts 17:3:

ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ χριστὸς [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς ὃν ἐγὼ καταγγέλλω ὑμῖν.

First problem, how are the variants of ο χριστος ο ιησους best listed? This is what the apparatus of NA28 and NA27 do:

ο χριστος [ο] ιησους
1 2 4 L Ψ 323. 945. 1175. 1241. 1739 Maj
2 4 P74 A D 33. 81 gig vgst
4 2 Alef 614. 1505 vgcl
4 3 2 E 453. 2818
txt B

ο χριστος [ο] ιησους
1 2 4 Ψ 1739 Maj
2 4 P74 A D 33vid. 81 pc gig vgst ([reverse order] Alef 614. 1505 pc vgcl)

4 3 2 E 36. 453 pc
txt B

(Maj stands for Gothic M; [reverse order] for the superscript floating s-shaped wiggle; Alef for the Hebrew letter)

The main difference between the two editions regarding the grouping of manuscripts is that the variant 4 2 ιησους χριστος is no longer given as a subvariation of 2 4 χριστος ιησους. Consistent and clear.
However, I was puzzling over the representation of the last variant 4 3 2 ιησους ο χριστος, simply because there is an alternative way of indicating the same words, 4 1 2. This is of course because the first and third word of the printed text are identical. And though I might be nitpicking here, I would chose for 4 1 2 over 4 3 2, simply because I think that this variant is derived from the first variant (1 2 4) rather than from the third (4 2) or from the text reading (1 2 3 4) or an untestified 2 3 4. Actually (see below) I don't think the 3 appeared anywhere except in Vaticanus. Yet, since this is open to debate, I don't think 4 3 2 for ιησους ο χριστος is 'wrong', it is simply based on a different local stemma.

Second problem, what to do with the differences in listed manuscripts? I appreciate it that the witnesses added in NA28 are there. Most of these manuscripts are very interesting.
In NA28 the videtur with minuscule 33 has disappeared, and as far as I can tell this is an error since the transcription of this manuscript on the NT.VMR indicates that there is the possibility of ο χς ις (reading 1 2 4, not 2 4). The image on the same website is unclear.
It is good to know that minuscule 2818 used to be minuscule 36aK, which explains the difference in the last variant.
The disappearance of the pauci siglum in three of the listed variants is a real loss, I like to know that there is more to know, even when I don't know what that is. The presence of pc also helps to emphasize that the text reading is found only in Vaticanus.

Third problem, is the correct text printed? I doubt it. It seems to me that the text of Vaticanus is produced by intervention and, given the affinities of its text, comes straight from the 2 4 variant (2 4 to 1 2 3 4). Whether 1 2 4 or 2 4 is original is hard to tell. The former might be the result of influence of 9:22 (ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ χριστός.), the latter of attraction of χς to the following anarthrous ις.


  1. I agree with you that 4 1 2 is a better representation of 4 3 2. Another reason is that the latter representation suggests that a scribe has moved an article between Ἰησοῦς and χριστός, which I don't think is happening. So even with alternative local stemmata, I still would favor 4 1 2.

    I'm also suspicious that the singular reading of B is the right text.

  2. I agree about pc as well. I find myself transcribing them across from NA27 into my NA28!

  3. Agreed on 4 1 2. I wonder why we treat articles in cases like this as words. What we have are really two variants, 4 2 and 2 4, but only 2 ever has an article—until we come to Vaticanus, which treats both nouns as definite.

    I'm glad NA28 decides to split these, instead of treating them as an interchangeable reversal. The problem I see here is that we either have two nouns, or a title complex. It matters, because the opening clause is an equation, "this is X," and it is followed by a relative clause. If they split, 2 4 and 1 2 4 point to a claim about Jesus being messiah, while 4 2 and 4 1 2 point to a claim about the messiah being Jesus. But if 1 2 3 4 is a legitimate variant, it suggests to me a title complex, something like "This one is Jesus Christ, whom I report to you." I wouldn't be surprised if that's how the variant in B comes about, treating the conjunction of nouns as a single name. But that's obviously the minority report! The decision to be made seems to be between (1) 2 4 and 4 (1) 2.

  4. Men after my own heart...

    Dirk: "The disappearance of the pauci siglum in three of the listed variants is a real loss, I like to know that there is more to know, even when I don't know what that is."

    Peter: "I agree about pc as well. I find myself transcribing them across from NA27 into my NA28!"

    And to reiterate my previous comment on this point:

    "My primary issue with the NA28 apparatus is the apparent total disappearance of "pc" and "al" from the variant readings cited. This makes it appear as though only those MSS specifically cited testify to a given variant, when in fact there may be several or even dozens of other MSS supporting such readings. Some correction of this defect should be considered for future printings of NA28."

    So if anyone in Münster should be listening....

  5. Dirk, thank you for bringing this interesting problem to the table.
    I agree that the loss of "pc" and "al" is a great loss. But comparing the apparatus with my 1975 UBS-text delivered quite interesting differences:
    1234 Only in B, but possible also in Coptic Sahidic.
    124 P is mentioned instead of L, together with 4 Uncials and 21 Minuscules as well as the Byz Lect. and also possibly the Cop Sa
    24 UBS adds a few more Ancient Translations
    42 Two Minuscules are mentioned together with quite a few more Translations
    432 only E is mentioned together with 3 Lectionaries.
    12 represented by lectionary 1021 and Georgian Translation.
    I just love the the extra information in the UBS!
    And an article can make quite a difference in the understanding of the text!
    God bless,

  6. On one item I stand happily corrected, and that is the change in the citation of minuscule 33. Klaus Wachtel pointed out that the transcription has not yet been adjusted to the latest actual inspection of the manuscript. There is now sufficiently secure data to cite 33 for χριστος ιησους (2 4). Nice.