Monday, December 19, 2005

Alain Martin on Matthew 1:16

In the 'note' on Matthew 1:16 mentioned earlier, Alain Martin considers a number of aspects of the variant in the Sinaitic manuscript of the Old Syriac version. As is well known, this version presents an account that says that 'Joseph begot Jesus'. I argued in 2004 that the Syriac reads as it does for linguistic reasons (Early Syriac Translation Technique, pp. 19, 39, 240-44, 289), but this article, completed by 2002 yet delayed in publication, does not consider such linguistic possibilities. Martin posits that the Sinaitic manuscript, which is probably an early form of Matthew, spoke both of human paternity by Joseph (1:16) and of a supernatural conception (1:18) but that this does not reflect a contradiction so much as a 'sensibilité théologique'.

Near the end of the article (p. 93) we are told the following:

La critique texuelle apprend au théologien à clairement distinguer entre l'essentiel et le secondaire (attitude bien calviniste!). Elle rappelle que la Parole de Dieu n'est pas figée dans un text ou dans un temps, mais que'lle est vivante et se développe dans l'histoire, ce que est le rôle du Saint-Esprit selon le Nouveau Testament.

It appears that theological discourse in textual criticism is alive an well. However, it is interesting that 'living' should be used as the opposite of 'fixed'.

1 comment

  1. My critical apparatus reveals that the Spirit was sloppy in its living role. It failed to correct Mt. 1:18 ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου to remove the reference to the Spirit/divine role in the conception of Jesus.

    I do not have a Syriac text nor the ability to read one. Can someone confirm this? The alternate reading here has little to do with the Spirit's activity or a scribal renovation of the text given the continued presence of the 1:18 statement.