Friday, October 02, 2009

Heb 2.9 in P46 (and NA27)

Just a couple of points:
  1. In the inner margin of NA the numbered kephalaia are given as 'most widely used in the manuscripts' (p. 78*). These are often interesting and sometimes illuminating, and sometimes very relevant to textual criticism (e.g. on the pronoun of Romans 8.2; cf. Romans keph. 11). Right here (at Heb 2.9) the placement of the number is interesting in the sense of 'strange'. (Assuming for the moment that this placement is accurate to the placement in most manuscripts [which in any case I cannot check].) It is strange because it breaks up Hebrews' interaction with Ps 8: the final clause of Ps 8.7 is in view in Heb 2.8c as not yet seen; whereas the two preceding clauses of Ps 8.6 are in view in Heb 2.9a-b as now seen (this also confirms the decision to follow the shorter text of Ps 8.7 in the citation in Heb 2.7). So this particular chapter division is interesting in the sense of being profoundly unhelpful.
  2. The reader marks of P46 (see my earlier post) are interesting in 2.9 as signalling a pause between DIA TO PAQHMA TOU QANATOU and the following clause (from Ps 8) DOXH k.t.l. This could be read as associating the 'lower than the angels' directly with Jesus' death; and separating the 'crowning' as subsequent (with plenty of modern commentators). I take the crowding of ESTEFANWMENON (unusually given the whole page) as a kind of punctuation too - ending this clause at the end of the line and leaving the OPWS clause to a new line.
  3. Hebrews' use of Ps 8 is clearly very interesting and purposeful. In my own thinking about it I see Hebrews as really crediting the title of the Psalm as significant (EIS TO TELOS): he knows from this that it is eschatological, hence his approach to this section is to differentiate precisely between what is already and what is not yet - this is not an arbitrary reading but a LXX-canonical reading that Hebrews is pursuing (of the LXX clearly, not a Hebrew Bible).
  4. I actually quite like to see the NA27 note about the conjecture to omit the OPWS clause (the deletion of all conjectural emendations is one aspect of NA28 that I am not looking forward to). It is a signal to me that scholars have found the clause awkward and so it is a stimulus to think it through carefully (I confess that I am unlikely to follow proposed conjectural emendations without any external evidence). They are also interesting for the history of scholarship (over to Jan for more ...).
  5. P46 already reads XARITI QEOU here, which suggests that if in fact XWRIS QEOU is the original text, the alteration to XARITI took place pretty early and established itself fairly readily as the manuscript reading. (Although of course even if you don't think XWRIS QEOU is original we must all acknowledge it as an ancient reading preserved for a millenium in manuscripts no longer extant and then appearing in some late uncials and early minuscules) I don't have the strength right now to defend this reading (read the brilliant treatment in B.D. Ehrman, Orthodox Corruption, 146-150 for a compelling argument at this point).


  1. I profoundly disagree with your point 1. I would consider that whoever placed this kephalaion here has understood the argument of this chapter better than any modern editors - even than the TNIV editors who don't seem to have followed the logic of their own arguments. This is the key turning point of the chapter. In verses 5-8 the author is explaining how angels had been unable to bring about the fulfilment of the psalm, everything in subjection to humanity. Then in verse 9 a new character is introduced, Jesus, and we start to see how, by contrast, he was able to do what the angels had been unable to do in giving back to humanity its rightful place of glory and honour.

  2. Peter,
    Thanks, that is a really helpful and thought-provoking comment. You are right - we do disagree with the drift of this section. But I was a bit quick to move from pondering why the chapter number was placed here to rejecting it. It could be to credit v9, and the first appearance of the name JESUS in Hebrews, with a new thought; as if Hebrews first approached the Psalm anthropologically and then (from v9) christologically. So it could be that the chapter number could be brought in to support the view - which Ellingworth says is the majority view (p. 150) - that the pronouns in v8 refer to mankind. I don't myself find this persuasive (see Ellingworth, 150-152 for arguments); but it would have been a sympathetic way to interpret the chapter number.