Monday, November 02, 2015

A Three Part Correction to the Editio Critica Maior at 1 John 3.24

I use the Editio Critica Maior frequently and I continue to be impressed by how well it combines clarity with great detail. Yes, it takes a bit of getting used to its format (as with any large apparatus), but once you’ve got the basics, it’s great.

But occasionally, I do find that it has mistakes. 1 John 3.24 is a case in point. The ECM records the first hand of 180 and both Syriac versions as attesting a dittography of the first ἐν αὐτῷ in καὶ ὁ τηρῶν τὰς ἐντολὰς αὐτοῦ ἐν αὐτῷ μένει καὶ αὐτὸς ἐν αὐτῷ. But, in fact, a check of Aland’s edition of the Syriac shows that there is no such dittography. Both versions have the equivalent of each occurrence of ἐν αὐτῷ (ܒܗ) just once. I suspect this was a simple case of the Syriac sigla being put with the wrong variant address. But there’s more.

Since I was checking, I tried looking at the images for GA 180 in the VMR but quickly realized that what I was looking at was a manuscript of only the Gospels. This led me to Elliott’s Bibliography where I learned that part of GA 180 has a new number: GA 2918. As best I can tell, GA 2918 is in the same codex as 180 (Borg. gr. 18) but, since the Gospels are in a different hand of a different date, they now have a different GA number. Apparently the change happened after the ECM was printed, so it still reflects the old number.

Checking the images for 2918, then, I found a third problem. Ιt looks to me like the scribe of 2918 has not written the first ἐν αὐτῷ twice, but rather ἐν αὐτοῦ, his eye jumping to the wrong αυτ-. The ECM is right about the correction though; it’s just the original error that’s incorrect.

1 John 3.24a in GA 2918 (formerly GA 180) showing the deletion marks around εν αυτου

All this means that if you were only reading the ECM apparatus, you would be led astray in three ways: (1) you would have the wrong reading for 180*; (2) you wouldn’t know that GA 180 has been split numerically in two (and so wouldn’t find it in the VMR); and (3) you would wrongly think that the Syriac tradition agreed with it in error. Thankfully, with just a little digging, all three problems can be spotted. Maybe in another printing it can be fixed.

I suppose the lesson from this is that producing a good critical apparatus is complicated work with numerous points at which the process can break down. A second lesson follows from this: check your sources!


  1. Thanks Pete. I stared at the -tou for a while because there is something odd about it. But I think I have to agree with your reading.

    The good thing is that the VMR enables us to check on the ECM - an excellent contribution to ongoing accuracy.

    I wonder whether a pdf of proposed corrections to the ECM might be more helpful than small changes in each printing.

  2. Why do you think that Aland’s edition of the Syriac is more accurate than the ECM? Maybe Aland made the mistake.