Monday, March 05, 2012

Creative Misreading and Hebrews 9:26

Scriptio continua yields its own specific problems and I found a great example in Sinaiticus. At Hebrews 9:26 most manuscripts read something along these lines:

νυνὶ δὲ ἅπαξ ἐπὶ συντελείᾳ τῶν αἰώνων εἰς ἀθέτησιν ἁμαρτίας διὰ τῆς θυσίας αὐτοῦ πεφανέρωται.

'But now he has appeared once at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself'
[Two variants: νυν / νυνι and the presence / absence of an article before αμαρτιας.]

This is what Sinaiticus has:

The combination of starting a new paragraph and, more importantly, the diaeresis on the iota suggests that the scribe read:

νῦν ἴδε ἅπαξ ...

'Now behold ...'

So, which reading does Sinaiticus support, νῦν or νυνί?


  1. Even if the scribe did interpret the phrase as νυν ιδε, that does not necessarily mean that the text should be understood as supporting the reading νυν. His word misdivision does not change the fact that his text and presumably his exemplar (or perhaps earlier exemplars?) read the ambiguous νυνιδε. One thing is certain: the reading does not support νυνδε. Beyond that, the proper word division is an editorial/exegetical decision.

  2. NUNI DE appears rather often in the NT. It would be worth checking the other instances.

  3. I recall finding the same issue in Phlm 1.11 with regard to the diaeresis on the iota:

    τόν ποτέ σοι ἄχρηστον νυν ἴδε καὶ σοὶ καὶ ἐμοὶ εὔχρηστον ('formerly he was useless to you; now, behold, both to you and me he is useful').

    τόν ποτέ σοι ἄχρηστον νυνὶ δὲ καὶ σοὶ καὶ ἐμοὶ εὔχρηστον ('formerly he was useless to you; but now, both to you and to me he is useful')

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  5. Any chance the diaeresis comes from a later hand or corrector? There are a few clear instances of such in that same column; esp. another diaeresis 10 lines above in a similar situation (ουδ ινα).

  6. Although this is doubtful, how do we know for certain that the exemplar did not have NUN IDE?

  7. Assuming the diaeresis is first hand the text of the scribe (the one he produced) seems intended to read νυν ιδε. And with Tim, it may be an idiosyncrasy by the scribe, but it may also go back earlier. Interesting to see that there is at least one other example within Paul. Now, if we find the same phenomenon in a different section but only by this scribe, then we have something of a case for a creation in copying, rather than an inherited feature.

  8. Dirk,

    This is an interesting variant!

    I apologize for being anal in advance. Dieresis phonetically divides two vowels. Would we be better of to label this a trema, whose orthographic function is essentially to look pretty? Perhaps, the usage in Sinaiticus is more sophisticated, so please correct me if I am being naïve.

    Do we have instances of νυνι with dieresis but without consecutive δε in Sinaiticus?

  9. The latin diglots seem to have some confusion between νυνι δε and νυν ιδε at Ephesians 2:13, possibly generated by an itacism.

    0319 has Νυνειδε with the first epsilon marked for deletion. With some sort of diacritic over the iota
    0320 has Νυνιδε, also with some sort of diactritic over the iota.

    I think both of these are just copying 06 (their parent here), which, I believe, has Νυνειδε with the epsilon marked for deletion. Tischendorf doesn't record the diacritics, but I don't think either 0319 or 0320 had the skill to add them on their own.

    More interesting is 012 and 010 both read Νυν ειδε (with the word separation).

    It's quite likely the common source between 06 and the exemplar of 012 and 010 had Νυνειδε. Is it likely that a scribe would have written the itacism Νυνει, or were they thinking Νυν ειδε instead?