Friday, January 26, 2007

Caesarean discussion example, Mt 27:46

The Caesarean discussion in this week's blog opens up an interesting 'bubble' in textual history. Something is there, and early, even if not a full-fledged family like the Alex-Newtons or the Westerleys. For the meantime, this 'group' raises interesting readings at times. Gergesenes, et al., of Mk5:1, Luke 8:26, Mat 8:28 has been raised. Here is another interesting text with potential local colour.

Mathew 27:46 ηλει ηλει λαμα σαβαχθανει

The Alex family is usually rejected as an assimilation to Mark, 'cepting WH.
The West family is usually rejected as an assimilation to Psalm22 Heb.
UBS/NA go with Byz/Majority as the only family preserving a Marcan//Matthean distinction. It is not commonly pointed out that they are following Byz, here. (Yes, you're welcome, Maurice.)

But the 'Caesarean' group may be preserving an earlier form of this reading in Matthew. It preserves the form of LAMA that is more fitting with HLEI. It also preserves the uncial-age spelling criterion that Pete Williams might be developing (Yes?), -EI in HLEI and SABAXQANEI. Additionally, the first 'A' vowel in SABAXQANEI is recording a shortened 'shva', which could support reading LAMA as לְמָה 'lema Aramaic'. The textual point is simply that LAMA is distinct and potentially old/original. (As mentioned, לָמָה lama Hebrew is the most fitting with HLEI אֵלִי.)

Do we credit the 'Caesarean Group' with a priority reading here?
(Too bad P45 Matthew didn't have chapt 27! And we need to remember that theta and fam1 are late artifacts.)

Anyway, I went that way in my November 2006 ETS paper. It may not be published for 2-3 years. So I have time to equivocate.

[[Of course, I read HLEI as Hebrew, not Aramaic, on the grounds that its appearance in the later targum tradition is likely a midrashic signal and not natural Aramaic in any case. Similarly for an Aramaic magic incantation. Such environments do not show that HLEI was a natural option in Aramaic. (For different reasons I argued that Mark was raising a midrashic allusion in his ELWI אֱלָהִי version.)]]


  1. What an interesting verse to talk about! However, what do we know about the value range of shewa in Hebrew or Aramaic at the time?

  2. For PJW

    For standard Hebrew there was no shva, so 'a' is expected. Of course, that doesn't mean that a dialectical form with a reduced-vowel couldn't have been in existence somewhere in first century Hebrew.

    For Aramaic, just about anything short could show up in Greek and Swanson lists E, I, A, and even EI (since length had already dropped out of Greek pronunciation, EI = I.)

    So for the question of the original form of the text of Matthew, our lack of certainty in predicting how an Aramaic shva would be transcribed is irrelevant. It would be covered. And we don't know that the word is intended as Aramaic in Matthew. In Mark, on the other hand, we can presume that the forms are intended as Aramaic, at least in the Alex and Byz textual traditions, (i.e., excepting the 'Caesarean' and Western.) But I would prefer to discuss Mt 27:46, since I think the Caesarean has a respectable claim to originality here, while I consider its Marcan text as an assimilation to Matthew.

  3. For PJW

    And I am curious on your take of an "UNCIAL-spelling criterion", or perhaps a "1st-5th century spelling criterion" that would give some recognition to EI spellings in situations like these.

  4. I haven't really developed criteria. We need to know more about the pattern of spelling in individual manuscripts. In principle a spelling can survive more than 5 centuries or less than 5 minutes.

  5. And on spelling history, only with quantitative studies can we gauge the strength/probability of a feature.

    Also, it is difficult to filter out random self-corrections for a 'subphonemic' feature. For example, a 2c ms could spell a word "EI", a 3c copy could make a mistake "I", and a 5c copy could spell "EI" without being aware of what they did.

    However, having said that, there is certainly a tendency for the uncials to use EI more frequently on many forms that I've noticed. (Though alef, less than B.) This can be perceived most easily by reading WH, where there are frequently found even Greek words with 'pleonastic' EI. I wonder if any of the published studies on p75 vis-a-vis B have already tablulated the specific feature of -EI- versus -I-?


  6. On the use of EI versus I.

    I did some work on the EI - I pair in Sinaiticus. The first thing I found is that the frequency of this particular interchange is dependant on which of the three scribes is copying, and secondly that a tendency exists to substitute EI with I more often than vice versa (that is, scribes tended to go for the shorter option). Thirdly, there is an exception to this rule: names, where (as compared with our modern critical editions) all three scribes had a tendency to prefer EI (PEILATOS etc.) but especially the scribe with what I would call the 'purest' spelling.

  7. Thank you, DJ.
    That is confirmatory to my rough readings (never counting anything) of 'alef'. There are more "I" in Sinaiticus vis-a-vis "EI" in Vaticanus. And assuming that by 'purest speller' you meant 'best speller', it is nice to hear that EI was more frequent in names.

    And it does seem clear that WH's names have a higher text critical probability than current NA/UBS, at least if we trust current views of what are considered good and old manuscripts, (which I broadly accept.) Anyway, we need this study on a "late" manuscript like 'theta' in order to give perspective to evaluating Matt 27:46 in theta.

  8. Another variable to be considered is the misunderstanding by some of the hearers at the cross on exactly what Jesus was saying. Hence some thought that he was calling for HLIAN.

    I think D. Jongkind has made a valid observation about the orthography in Sinaiticus, which invariably reissues the contentions between Reuchlin and Erasmus.


  9. For Malcolm,

    But Erasmian wasn't an option for the first century. Everyone spoke EI the same as I. Furthermore, All our manuscripts were written and copied by people who spoke EI as I. (This is simply historical linguistics processing the data. There is no debate or contention.)

    However, ms-'alef' did have a tendency toward writing 'I' in comparison with other uncials. And that is a scribal distinction.

  10. Dirk, Of course Pilate's name with ει is the more usual form in the mss. It's even in P90. If I remember rightly it's also the spelling found in the Gospel of Peter.