Friday, February 22, 2013

Acts 21:5 and (Variants) within Variants

A little lesson on the use of brackets ( . ) in the apparatus of NA28.

In Acts 21:5 the text reads either (with selected evidence for the word order variation ημας εξαρτισαι from NA28 [mainly]):

οτε δε εγενετο εξαρτισαι ημας τας ημερας, εξελθοντες κτλ.
A B*.2 E 2344


οτε δε εγενετο ημας εξαρτισαι τας ημερας, εξελθοντες κτλ.
all others including P74 Alef B1 C (33) 1739 Byz

I was interested in the (33) - the brackets indicate a minor variation - where the text is given in an appendix of NA28 on page 829 (first printing): ημας ημερας εξαρτισαι.
Stated in this way 33 is closer to the majority reading than the minority one. However, the full picture is slightly different.

33: οτε δε εγενετο εξελθειν ημας ημερας εξαρτισαι εξελθοντες
(there is possibly punctuation after ημας)

What we have is that the infinitive following εγενετο, εξαρτισαι, is replaced with εξελθειν, most likely under influence of the following participle εξελθοντες, and the article before ημερας is omitted. Then the correct infinitive is reinserted.

On the basis of εγενετο + INF + ημας, which is the real issue in the word order variant, I would argue that 33 could be included in support of the minority reading:

οτε δε εγενετο εξαρτισαι ημας τας ημερας, εξελθοντες κτλ.
A B*.2 E (33) 2344

I would be almost fine with having this word order in the main text. (Ah, you say Tregelles had this already?)


  1. The phrase EGENETO EXARTISAI HMAS would be a solecism, although one following a more logical structural sequence. This would imply that the main text NA27-28/Byz reading EGENETO HMAS EXARTISAI is the "more difficult" and thus the more likely original reading.

    Also, the variant word order might have resulted from the influence of the more normal sequence found in the near-neighbor passage, Ac 21:1 (EGENETO ANACQHNAI HMAS).

  2. Perhaps I'm not understanding this correctly, so I beg your patience and pardon in advance:

    How is the NA27-28/Byz reading more difficult? Wouldn't a Greek-speaking scribe be more inclined to correct a "solecism" to something he considered to be more idiomatic? In my view, the more difficult reading from a transcriptional point of view would be the "solecistic" one (although I'm not sure about the solecism anyway).

  3. As you correctly note, the occurrence of a grammatically peculiar solecism does provide a reason for scribes to "correct" the expression. The Nestle-Byz reading is more difficult specifically because it is a solecism.

    The "normal" form of expression as found in the minority variant places the accusative "subject" of the infinitive in its "proper" location following and not preceding the infinitive (cf. Lk 2:49; 11:18; 22:34; Ac 4:12; 7:28; 24:13; 27:1,20).

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  5. The reason I was confused is that in your first comment you note " EGENETO EXARTISAI HMAS would be a solecism", which according your description of a "normal" form of expression is in fact a normal form (i.e. accusative "subject" following the inf.)