Monday, March 09, 2009

Jesus, Judas or the Devil?

John 13:2-3
2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;

While some Greek manuscripts have "Jesus" (above in bold), and the versions tend to have the name, the earliest Greek witnesses (except for A) omit the subject, simply reading:
εἰδὼς ὅτι πάντα ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ ὁ πατὴρ εἰς τὰς χεῖρας (P66.75 א B D L W 1241)

Grammatically, one might understand the antecedent of εἰδὼς to be of the two figures in the prior sentence ... Judas or "the devil". The context would quickly prevail of course. However, it seems that scribes added the name Jesus, either intentionally or unintentionally making explicit what was already implicit.

The Byzantine tradition and a number of later uncials read ο Ιησους. I think that the versions may have the reading for translational reasons and not because of their Greek Vorlagen. The use of ΔΕ by the Bohairic has partially persuaded me on this. The Greek loanword is frequently used to reinforce a change in verbal subject in Bohairic with no Greek attestation. Versions aside, I wonder how many of the Greek citations were actually related to one another historically.

Thought for the day:
The earliest Greek texts set the stage for later variants. Certain passages would have been textual lightning rods for certain variations.


  1. Or it may merely be the case that the putative Alexandrian archetype as well as the archetype(s) of a limited number of other witnesses could have dropped O IHSOUS by S^S homoioteleuton (EIDWSOIS > EIDWS) -- a type of error that appears to occur somewhat frequently among the various MSS.

    Cf. Jn 19:30 for a similar instance in John, this time involving only Aleph* it-a pbo.

  2. I don't find the ΔΕ in the Bohairic convincing. The Syriac reads HU DEN YESHU' METUL D YODA' WO ... As in the Bohairic, a construction with the Greek particle (DEN) is used. But that is just a natural way to start the sentence in Syriac, and doesn't say anything about whether or not Jesus' name was in the text used by the translators.

  3. Doesn't the genitive absolute construction by definition pretty much negate the possibility that the subject of the main verb is the same as that within the genitive absolute construction? Therefore, the subject of EIDWS would apparently go back to O IHSOUS of 13:1, even if Dr. Robinson's explanation were considered insufficient. One also may observe the possible omission of O IHSOUS by h.t. error when it follows AUTOIS, as in LEGEIAUTOISOIS --> LEGEI AUTOIS . . . (cf.,e.g., Matt 14:27; 26:38; John 8:21; 10:7; 18:5; 21:5).


  4. Maurice, this could indeed be homoioteleuton.

    Gie, I am not sure what you do not find convincing -- perhaps we are in agreement. My statement about Bohairic ΔΕ derives from a pattern which I have found in the Johannine text. This bo use of ΔΕ is no different than its use in Greek. The explicative repeatedly appears in bo to introduce a new subject without significant Greek parallel. bo has ~33% more ΔΕ's than the NA27. This is an significant divergence when you consider that the numbers for comparable explicatives are typically less than 5%. This passage fits with the overall picture of what the bo is doing, and raises the question as to whether this citation and its partners (esp. the versions) have a shared legacy. It sound as if you share my skepticism.

  5. Christian,
    I agree that the Bohairic (and the Syriac etc.) didn't necessarily translate a Greek text with the name of Jesus explicitized.
    By the way, I am also in agreement with your textual decision. My point was that the ΔΕ in the versions is not an argument that the name Jesus was added either. But I see your point. Peshitta in any case is often explicitizing.