Monday, February 18, 2019

On Heb 11.11 and Not Making a ‘Fetish’ of Longer/Shorter Readings

While doing some work in Hebrews this week I learned two new things: (1) Heb 11.11 has a number of knotty problems, several of them textual and (2) Herman Hoskier has a textual commentary of sorts on Hebrews. In reading his comments on this verse, I noted a little gem of a line at the end.

But first, here’s the text and the problem as illustrated by comparing RP/KJV with NA/NRSV. The main interpretive problem is who the subject is (Sarah or Abraham) with the variants bearing directly on that.
RP: Πίστει καὶ αὐτὴ Σάρρα δύναμιν εἰς καταβολὴν σπέρματος ἔλαβεν, καὶ παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας ἔτεκεν, ἐπεὶ πιστὸν ἡγήσατο τὸν ἐπαγγειλάμενον

KJV: Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

NA27: Πίστει καὶ αὐτὴ Σάρρα στεῖρα δύναμιν εἰς καταβολὴν σπέρματος ἔλαβεν καὶ παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας, ἐπεὶ πιστὸν ἡγήσατο τὸν ἐπαγγειλάμενον.

NRSV: By faith he [Abraham] received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised.
And here is Hoskier’s comment on the variants in play:
xi 11 και αυτη σαρρα στειρα. Thus P46, agreed to by D* Ψ d e f vg and a dozen Greek cursives (ἡ σπειρα Db Sod78boh sah and a few; στειρα ουσα P and a few, with syr arm aeth Thphyl), but στειρα is omitted by א A Dc P13Chr Aug Dam Thdt and the rest.

Here, then, we have the longer text A.D. 200, but στειρα could, of course, easily be dropped after σαρρα.

ibid. —ετεκεν P46 with P13vid A D* 17 d e f vg sah boh aeth arm Chr 1/2 Euthal, against the rest and syr Chr 1/2 Dam Thdt which have it; while D gr Egr P 37 73 80 116 add: εις τοτεκνωσαι after ελαβεν, and d e: filium.

Thus, in one single verse, we must judge between ‘longer’ and ‘shorter’ texts, and not make a fetish of either. There is no royal road or short cut in these matters.
This should become a new canon which, if my Latin serves me, I will call lectio non idolum.

1 comment

  1. I think the reading of P13 is rather germane to the claim στειρα has to antiquity.