Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Phil 1.11: 'for the glory of God and approval for me'

The other day in house group we studied Phil 1.1-11. One thing we didn't touch on was the interesting variant in v11: EIS DOXAN QEOU KAI EPAINON EMOI (P46; it/ar). Here is a picture of P46 at this point:

Considering this is the earliest manuscript (by far), and the most difficult reading, I wonder whether this could make sense as the original/Pauline reading. On this basis EPAINON here would refer to approval or recognition received from God (as generally in Rom 2.29; and specifically in connection with apostolic ministry in 1 Cor 4.5, BDAG has other refs). The general thought would reflect Paul's conviction that his own eschatological reward is connected with the perseverance of his churches (as e.g. 1 Thess 2.19f: 'For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our gory and joy.'). The same idea (with quite different language) is present in Phil 2.16. So on this basis it seems possible to conceive of this reading as Pauline - not egotistical but eschatological. The righteousness of the Philippians comes through Jesus Christ, it brings glory to God, and it results (also) in eschatological reward for Paul. Silva pretty much accepts this view of things, but is rather cautious about adopting a reading on the basis of a single witness.


  1. Interesting post. P46 isn't totally alone as there appears to be a ninth century copy of OL that supports the reading too. But I would agree with the assertion to not too quickly dismiss the reading of the oldest evidence, especially when it is the hardest reading. Easy to see why it would have been original and then dropped out, versus not original and then added by P46. It would be great to get a new Oxyrhynchus scrap of this verse from the 3rd century.

  2. Are you sure that the last bit of the line reads "... and approval for me?" It looks to me that the "rho" in the word EPAINON might actually be a "Pi" ! Can you please post a Hi-Rez sample of the page? If its actually a Pi, then the line would read, " for the glory of God - even my voice!"

  3. Hi Peter
    I suggested as much in a footnote in my DPhil. My examiners were not convinced, but it still seems to me that it is a good test case for whether people are genuine about the harder reading criteria. The only other person I came across who considered it is J. M. Ross in a little article in NovT - don't have the details here I am afraid...books still on the ocean.

  4. Thanks Sean (hope you are enjoying sunny Melbourne by the way),

    J.M. Ross, 'Some Unnoticed Points in the Text of the New Testament' NovT 25(1983), 59-72, at 70f.

    Ross actually opts for the reading of F* and G as original: EIS DOXAN KAI EPAINON MOI. Other readings substitute something for MOI (QEOU, CRISTOU, AUTOU etc.). On this basis P46 is a conflate reading.

    He also adds 2 Cor 1.14 to the passages dealing with Paul's ground for boasting on the Day of the Lord.

    For Ross the reading of F* and G is difficult, but not impossible; and it makes sense of all the other variants. (He is aware that it needs 'courage' to take this reading as original!).

  5. Well, my studies in TC have convinced me that most TC people are not that genuine about the harder reading criteria, when it goes against Aleph or B or both ...

    I personally would like to see P46 reading as original. It is so "outrages" that no scribe is likely to have created it. It makes no sense to argue that one did. IMO.

  6. Timo said:
    "my studies in TC have convinced me that most TC people are not that genuine about the harder reading criteria, when it goes against Aleph or B or both"

    I'm not sure if they are "not genuine", or simply that they regard it as only one in a range of criteria. If you credited this as the only criteria you'd end up with a NT full of complete nonsense. One is always balancing it off against other criteria.

  7. Even in this case, as Ross suggests, the reading of F* and G is probably more difficult than that of P46.

  8. Normally DFG go together in Paul. Here D* has a singular reading EIS DOXAN KAI EPAINON CRISTOU. This might be explained as an independent alteration of the core DFG tradition (represented by F* and G here). This can be eliminated from consideration as the original, but is a powerful proof of the likely direction of scribal handling of the MOI. Perhaps there was even some visual similarity between MOI and XU (not impossible to imagine).
    The ancester of the DFG text (which is a very old text) likely read EIS DOXAN KAI EPAINON MOI.

  9. Peter, you are of course right, so let me rephrase it. I am convinced that "the harder reading" criteria is often passed over, because it points to somewhere else than to Alef or B.

  10. Peter ("The ancester of the DFG text (which is a very old text) likely read EIS DOXAN KAI EPAINON MOI) reminded us that the DFG text represents a very old text, and Zuntz noted that the combination of p46 and DFG does not represent "western" corruption of p46 but that p46 and DFG independently witness to an older strand of tradition. While they don't agree here, they do share a common element (MOI) over against the majority reading. So following p46 in this instance is not quite the same as following a strictly "singular" reading.

    Zuntz also suggested that the archetype of the Pauline corpus was an edition of the letters with alternative readings in the margins; accepting that for the moment for the sake of argument, I wonder if the reading of p46 might be a confused conflation of a reading in the text and a reading in the margin? One apparently has here four readings in all:

    The first three readiings agree in directing both DOXAN KAI EPAINON to a single recipient; it is p46 that is anomolous in splitting it between two recipients. If p46 is not original, then it may be that our earliest extant witness may preserve a tertiary reading?

    P46 as either original or tertiary: which seems the more probable in this instance?

  11. I still "vote" for P46. I think it is understandable that a scribe would either delete THU or move it after EPAINON by taking out EMOI to try to put some sense into the sentence. XU could be an alteration of THU for doctrinal reasons.

    My simple question is: who would create the reading found in P46 and why?

  12. Timo asked, "who would create the reading found in P46 and why?" If we ask a different question--"how might the reading of p46 have arisen?"--a plausible scenario presents itself: start with (as Zuntz proposed) an archetype with alternative readings in the margins (or, if one prefers, simply a corrected MS): the text is that of FG, DOXAN KAI EPAINON MOI, and in the margin is the THU of the majority reading, marked as an alternative for MOI. It is not hard to envision a copyist misreading the correction marks and interpolating THU after DOXAN rather than substituting it in place of MOI. (Consider, e.g., three copyists, each charged with making a clean copy of our heavily-corrected P66: what are the odds that all three would resolve the many corrections in the same way?)

    A "plausible scenario" is not an argument. But as a mental exercise, it does remind us of the challenging task faced by a copyist confronted by a heavily corrected MS and charged to make a "clean copy" of it.

  13. Timo asked, "who would create the reading found in P46 and why?"

    Earlier, Timo argued: 'It is so "outrages" that no scribe is likely to have created it'.

    Actually, Timo, scribes regularly create readings much more silly than this one. Simply spend a rainy afternoon with Swanson, the ECM or Hoskier looking at singular readings. You will see them all over the place - there are literally hundreds of such outrageous readings in these sorts of exhaustive critical apparatuses.

    Just from a quick look at some of my lists of readings, here are two P46 readings equally silly:

    1.(1 Cor. 13:5) P46 - euschmonei for aschmonei: 'love ... does not behave with decorum’. Why would a scribe create such a ridiculous reading? Who knows, but he did!

    2. (Gal. 2:12) P46 - tina for tinaj: this case is more well-known, but still requires commentators trying to defend it to perform exegetical gymnastics.

    I'm sure others could give other examples from P46 where the singular reading is more difficult. In other words, the answer to Timo's question is that there is plenty of evidence that scribes created readings that strain the obvious sense of passages, even outrageous readings. (I could give literally hundreds of examples from other MSS).

    So, my answer to Timo's question is, to quote Royse, 'as one increases one's acquaintance with manuscripts, it becomes clear that scribes make virtually any kind of error imaginable sometime or other'. (Textual critics should frame this statement and hang it over their desks). Or, to put it more bluntly, stuff happens - get used to it.

    Instead, like Mike, I will ask another question:

    If there is any evidential basis for lectio difficilior, could someone please provide me with some examples of singular readings where the scribe (not a corrector fixing up a nonsense reading) gives us an easier reading. I'd be surprised if I even see anyone getting back on here with just ONE easier singular reading - but see how many you can find.

    One more qualification, by an EASIER singular reading, I do not mean a reading that is STYLISTICALLY easier (there are plenty of these where scribes add pronouns, conjunctions, etc, to polish up the text). Instead, I mean a singular reading where the SENSE is improved over the alternatives.

    I have a very small list of these (they do occur in the mss - however they are extremely rare), but I bet it will take some time for Timo (or any others) to get back to me with some examples.

    The point is this: if there was any basis in EVIDENCE (as opposed to arm-chair speculation) that lectio difficilior was valid, there should be LOADS and LOADS of cases (among singular readings) of scribes improving the sense of the text. After all, lectio difficilior potior asks us to expect that scribes were more likely to try to improve the sense of the text than corrupt it - and singular readings give us a glimpse of the scribes at the coal face. However, the phenomenon rarely if ever happens, which leads me to conclude that lectio difficilior is a crock.

    There, I hope that is provocative enough to get someone to try to prove me wrong.

  14. To put the problem of evidence for lectio brevior into context, Royse's and Head's studies showed the ratio of singular omissions to singular additions among early papyri running at about 75:25 (in percentage terms, or, for every three omissions you get one addition). That sort of evidence, to me, is incontrovertible - scribes omitted far more often than they added.

    But, my figures for lectio difficilior (based on over 2000 singular readings) show a ratio of over 200 harder readings to about 10 easier readings (20:1), or putting it into percentages: 95% harder readings to 5% easier. Those sorts of ratios, to me, put lectio difficilior out of business.

    However, when I mention these sorts of figures to textual critics, most instinctively (think knee-jerk reaction) spring to the defence of the canon. The problem is that some of these defences are poorly-thought-out, almost as if the canon must be defended at all costs.

    Let me give two examples:

    1. Easier readings would be more attractive to subsequent copyists, and more likely to be perpetuated, whereas harder readings are more likely to be later corrected. Therefore, the fact that harder readings predominate among singulars means little because the long-term effect on textual transmission would be in the opposite direction.

    To me, this objection
    (a) is circular reasoning, for it assumes what it should be proving (that scribes try to improve the text, rather than introduce further difficulties),
    (b) is not based on any evidence - the question of at what point a reading becomes so difficult that it tempted scribes to alter it should be one for evidence to determine, not armchair speculators, and
    (c) it puts the canon beyond the reach of any contrary evidence. It is like the story of the man whistling in Chicago who said he was whistling to keep the tigers away. When it was pointed out that there were no tigers in Chicago, he replied: 'See, it works'.

    2. A second defence involves introducing the issue of intentionality by claiming that lectio difficilior only applies to intentional changes.

    This defence, likewise, brings with it questions and problems.
    (1)It apears to commit the fallacy of the excluded middle - it ignores the possibility that a reading might have been created in more than one stage, as a result of a wandering mind or as a salvage reading of an earlier nonsense reading.
    (2) Even if we cull nonsense readings and cases of hom. from the count (as likely to be unintentional changes), we are still left with easier readings as an extreme minority, for the great majority of singular readings remaining are neutral or harder. This leaves the 'nuanced' defender of lectio difficilior with a conundrum. Either intentional changes to the text rarely seem to result in an improved text or, alternatively, the vast majority of textual changes must have been unintentional (even though they appear otherwise). Either way, the objection (and lectio difficilior) fails. In short, the objection does not dispose of anywhere near enough evidence to stand.

    And this is where I would like some help ...

    Are there any other good defences of lectio difficilior that I should be considering?

  15. Thanks Andrew,

    That is certainly worth thinking through/about. Do you mind if I take your comment and make it into a main post and get comments that way?

  16. Sure - that's fine.

    There is a mistake in my last post - I wrote 'lectio brevior' in the first line instead of 'lectio difficilior'.