Ed Andrew Edmondson, working on a PhD in beautiful Birmingham, sent in the following:
John 12:15 quotes Zechariah 9:9: “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!”. Most of the manuscripts read ο βασιλευς σου (your king), but a small number read ο βασιλευ σου - or is that ο βασιλευς ου since there are no word boundaries?
Surely it isn't intended to read “the king is not coming” (ο βασιλευς ου) - so is “ο βασιλευ σου” a legitimate alternative?
Consider John 12:15 in manuscript 1014, for example, which seems a clear case of a single sigma:
Perhaps the scribe missed out one sigma, either by design or error. Or perhaps this could be an unexpected use of the vocative... Now consider Matthew 21:5 in the same manuscript, which contains the same quote from Zechariah:
That has two sigmas... so it doesn't seem that this scribe would habitually miss one out. So was it just a mistake in his copying of John?
Interestingly, considering the same two places in manuscript 382 we find only one sigma in each place. So perhaps that scribe did deliberately write this with only one sigma. A few words earlier in John 12 he did write ο βασιλευσ του ιηλ (the king of Israel) – so he wasn't against the form βασιλευσ.
So why do we find this reading? Is it merely phonetic and/or just a different way of writing the same variant? Or is it a genuine variant using the vocative (or even the negative)?
And so should it be regularised away, or left in the critical apparatus? We were trying to answer this question in ITSEE today...
Witnesses to this variant: 036, 295, 382, 579, 732, 1014, 1029, 1344, 1546, 2411, 2585, 2615, L425, L1075