Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Eph 1:1 update

D.A. Black (dbo) links to a paper of his on Eph 1:1 (found here) which discusses the textual problem (including conjectural readings, see page 61, note 5). He also refers to a paper of his on conjectures in Matthew (no reference yet).


  1. It is striking that one of the few manuscripts that - probably with Marcion - reproduce Eph. 1:1 without the words εν Εφεσω is codex Sinaiticus. Sinaiticus may show Marcionitic influence in its very particular rendering of Ephesians 3:9.
    In stead of και φωτισαι [παντας] τις η οικονομια του μυστηριου του αποκεκρυμμενου απο των αιωνων εν τω Θεω, τω τα παντα κτισαντι δια Ιησου Χριστου,
    it reads
    και φωτισαι τις η οικονομια του μυστηριου του αποκεκρυμμενου απο των αιωνων τω Θεω, τω τα παντα κτισαντι δια Ιησου Χριστου.
    This version portrays the Demiurg as uninformed about the Mystery that Christ enthrusted to Paul.
    Could the omission of εν Εφεσω in the opening verse of Ephesians be a Marcionitic novelty after all?

  2. I see no signs of Marcion in Sinaiticus here. Part of our evaluation depends on how often we think changes were deliberate. Here the omission of a small word εν does not seem to require deliberate action.

  3. a. The omission of εν is precisely what Marcion would have done at this spot.
    b. We know that Marcion reworked the text of Ephesians.

  4. c. The combination of the readings of 1:1 and 3:9 in Sinaiticus makes a Marcionitic influence even more likely.

  5. Of course I don't believe Sinaiticus is a Marcionitic manuscript. I'm thinking of Marcionitic manuscripts or Marcionitic readings that the scribe of Ephesians in Sinaiticus may have come across.

  6. Thanks, Gie. I guess here we hit one of the rather unsatisfactory aspects of contemporary textual criticism. At the moment we have very little research being done to resolve the question of when we should appeal to deliberate change and when to accidental change. Every textual critic seems to have a preference for one of these two types of explanation (I prefer accidental), but very few could give any quantitative reason for why their preference for one of the two types of explanation is correct. We all seem to be basing our preferences on impression.

    The truth is that when the variant in Eph. 3:9 is considered in isolation either your explanation or mine could be satisfactory. What we need is massive quantitative survey of the transmission of the NT to get some idea of what proportion of changes have plausible accidental mechanical explanations (e.g. parablepsis) and what proportion have plausible theological explanations. Obviously the investigation can never be made 'scientific'--there are many calls for human judgement--but we could at least strive for something with a little more external control over the critic's judgement.

  7. Just a few thoughts.
    1. Marcion deliberately changed the text.
    2. Orthodox Christian leaders (Justin, Tertullian ...) complain that several heretics tampered with the text.
    3. All of this was in an early stage of textual transmission.
    4. In the first 200 years of textual transmission the Church was not organized sufficiently to supervise manuscript production.

    These are some of the reasons why I expect at least some deliberately corrupted readings in manuscripts that were produced by good-willing Christian scribes.

  8. Even variants which may have had an accidental cause will have longevity and popularity because of their theological impact/effect.

    I'm with Gie on the fact that it went on (cf. PMH: ‘Christology and Textual Transmission: Reverential Alterations in the Synoptic Gospels’ Novum Testamentum 35 (1993), 105–129).

    But on 1.1 are we sure that Marcion didn't read EN LAODIKEIA?

    For me two coincidents (esp when both readings are shared by a range of other 'good' manuscripts) doesn't demonstrate much. Need more connections (don't ask me how many).


  9. Wait a second...

    1:1 omission of εν Εφεσω,
    only in Marcion, Sinaiticus, cousins P46 and B and a few minuscles.

    3:9 omission of εν before τω Θεω, making the creator void of knowledge,
    only in Marcion, Sinaiticus and one minuscle.

    Pete head, where is your "range of other 'good' manuscripts"?