Friday, August 17, 2018

Where Orthography Affects the New Testament Text

Beginning Greek students are often shocked when they discover the gap between the formatting of their modern, printed New Testaments and our earliest Greek New Testament manuscripts. The letters are all “uppercase,” there are few if any spaces between letters, accents and breathing marks are nowhere in sight, iotas aren’t written subscript, and punctuation is rare as well.

Having now been introduced to scriptio continua, the first question they ask is usually “How on earth could they read it?” This is quickly followed by two more questions: “Then who decides where to put all these things in our print editions and doesn’t the decision affect interpretation?” Last year I found myself telling my first-year students that editorial decisions about formatting only rarely affect interpretation (cf. Mark 4.3; Rom 9.5; Eph 5.21–22).

Rom 9.5 in P46
This is probably true in the grand scheme of things. But, almost as soon as I said it, I knew there must be far more examples than I’m actually familiar with. In prepping for a new Greek class this semester, I wanted to close the gap on my ignorance. So, I started compiling a list of places where matters of orthography—especially punctuation, accenting, spelling, and word division—affect the translation or interpretation.

Enter the wonder that is the Amsterdam Database of New Testament Conjectural Emendation. After asking for examples on Facebook, Jan Krans arrived in the comments with a long list of examples drawn from the database. Jan was able to provide all the places marked as “Editorial Alternative” or “e,” which means, per the editors, that “the conjecture record actually contains a proposal that does not alter the uncial text written without punctuation, accents and word divisions.” In other words, exactly what I was looking for.

Listed here is Jan’s list in table form. The link will give you more detail in the database. There are, of course, examples not listed here (e.g., ἀλλ’ οἷς vs. ἄλλοις in Mk 10.40 or the accenting of ἐσμεν in 1 Jn 3.1). But this is quite enough to keep me from ever saying again that these decisions only rarely affect the text!

Ref. Variation Source Link
Matt 5:33 μοιχᾶται. Πάλιν ἠκούσατε ] μοιχᾶται πάλιν. Ἠκούσατε Markland cj12290
Matt 6:34 ἑαυτῆς ] αὑτῆς Westcott & Hort cj10234
Matt 8:18 αὐτόν ] αὑτόν Erasmus cj10136
Matt 9:6 τότε ] τό, τε Petit cj12296
Matt 9:16 αὐτοῦ ] αὑτοῦ Heinsius cj12300
Matt 11:12 ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν. πάντες γάρ ] ἁρπάζουσιν. αὐτὴν πάντες γάρ Peerlkamp cj12310
Matt 11:21 Χοραζίν ] χῶρα Ζίν Origen cj11216
Matt 15:5 ὠφεληθῇς ] ὠφελήθης Blass cj15781
Matt 20:22 οἴδατε ] οἶδα τε Harleß cj12343
Matt 23:25 ἐξ ἁρπαγῆς ] ἐξαρπαγῆς Beza cj12358
Matt 23:37 αὐτήν ] αὑτήν Fritzsche cj14020
Matt 24:2 οὐ ] οὗ Meyer cj12423
Matt 24:41 ἐν τῷ ] ἔν τῳ Anonymous cj10051
Matt 26:29 ἀπ’ ἄρτι ] ἀπαρτί Alberti cj12369
Matt 26:64 ἀπ’ ἄρτι ] ἀπαρτί Heinsius cj10617
Matt 27:29 ἀκανθῶν ] ἀκάνθων Pearce cj10057
Matt 27:51 καταπέτασμα ] κατὰ πέτασμα Möller cj15473
Matt 28:1 σαββάτων ] σαββατών Masius cj13619
Mark 2:21 ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ ] αὑτοῦ Heinsius cj13868
Mark 6:14 φανερὸν γὰρ ἐγένετο ] (φανερὸν γὰρ ἐγένετο) Grotius cj12561
Mark 7:11 ὠφεληθῇς ] ὠφελήθης Blass cj10728
Mark 9:11 ὅτι ] ὅ τι Lachmann cj15378
Mark 11:13 οὐ γὰρ ἦν καιρὸς σύκων (𝔐) ] οὗ γὰρ ἦν, καιρὸς σύκων Heinsius cj12611
Mark 12:32 καλῶς, διδάσκαλε, ἐπ’ ἀληθείας εἶπες ] καλῶς, διδάσκαλε. ἐπ’ ἀληθείας εἶπες Peerlkamp cj12617
Mark 14:19 εἷς κατὰ εἷς ] εἷς κᾷθ’ εἷς Beza cj12623
Mark 14:36 ὁ ] ὅ Heinsius cj15382
Luke 2:2 αὕτη ] αὐτή Triller cj10414
Luke 3:36 τοῦ Καϊνάμ ] τοῦ καὶ Νάν Knittel cj13628
Luke 6:35 μηδέν ] μηδέν’ de Dieu cj11385
Luke 8:17 γάρ ἐστιν ] γὰρ ἔστιν Westcott & Hort cj11617
Luke 20:19 πρὸς αὐτούς ] πρὸς αὑτούς Bornemann cj11312
Luke 22:70 ὅτι ] ὅ, τι Gataker cj13728
John 1:2–3 οὗτος … θεόν. πάντα δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς … οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν ] οὗτος … θεόν πάντα. δι’ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο (καὶ χωρὶς … οὐδὲ ἕν) ὃ γέγονεν. Hosmann cj12439
John 1:24 ἀπεσταλμένοι ] ἁπεσταλμένοι Holwerda cj12480
John 4:27 ὅτι ] ὅ, τι Coccejus cj11924
John 5:27 ὅτι ] ὅ τι Markland cj10779
John 5:35 αὐτοῦ. ] αὐτοῦ; Peerlkamp cj11931
John 6:37 ἐκβάλω ] ἐκβαλῶ Anonymous cj14628
John 7:29 εἰμι ] εἶμι Schmidius cj11945
John 7:34 εἰμί ] εἶμι Stephanus cj11678
John 7:36 εἰμί ] εἶμι Stephanus cj11946
John 8:9 εἷς καθ’ εἷς ] εἷς κᾷθ’ εἷς Beza cj15034
John 8:24 ὅτι ] ὅ τι Colomesius cj11949
John 8:28 ὅτι ] ὅ τι Maldonatus cj11950
John 8:37 οὐ χωρεῖ ] οὐχ ὡρεῖ Michaelis cj11951
John 9:21 ἑαυτοῦ ] αὑτοῦ Erasmus cj10223
John 13:19 ἀπ’ ἄρτι ] ἄπαρτι Mangey cj11967
John 14:3 εἰμί ] εἶμι Schmiedel cj11544
John 14:7 εἰ ἐγνώκατέ με ] εἰ ἐγνώκειτ’ ἐμέ Holwerda cj11976
John 15:9 ἠγάπησέν με ] ἠγάπησ’ ἐμέ Holwerda cj11979
John 19:14 ὥρα ἦν ὡς ἕκτη ] ὥρᾳ ἦν ὡς ἕκτῃ Bauldri cj11990
John 19:14 ὥρα ἦν ὡς ἕκτη ] ὥρα δὲ ὡς εἶε, κτῇ Knittel cj13618
John 19:29 ὑσσώπῳ περιθέντες ] ὑσσῷ πὼ περιθέντες Chapman cj11554
John 20:2 οἴδαμεν ] οἶδα μεν Leyser cj11999
John 20:17 μή μου ἅπτου ] μή. μου ἅπτου Bauldri cj12002
John 20:18 αὐτῇ ] αὑτῇ Pallis cj16148
John 20:21 ἀπέσταλκέν με ] ἀπέσταλκ’ ἐμέ Holwerda cj10834
John 21:24 οἴδαμεν ] οἶδα μεν Leyser cj12007
Acts 2:9 Μεσοποταμίαν, Ἰουδαίαν ] Μεσοποταμίαν Ἰουδαίαν Hilgenfeld cj14673
Acts 2:45 καθότι ] καθ’ ὁ, τι Venema cj12199
Acts 4:31 παντὶ τῷ θέλοντι πιστεύειν (D05) ] παντί τῳ θέλοντι πιστεύειν Hilgenfeld cj15923
Acts 9:27 ὅτι ] ὅ, τι Beza cj12223
Acts 9:35 Σαρῶνα ] Ἁσσαρῶνα Nestle cj10244
Acts 13:8 Ἐλύμας ] Ἐλυμᾶς Scaliger cj12244
Acts 13:8 ὁ ] ὅ Heinsius cj12245
Acts 14:13 πρὸ πόλεως (D05) ] Προπόλεως Ramsay cj11547
Acts 19:38 ἀγοραῖοι ] ἀγόραιοι Camerarius cj12405
Acts 19:38 ἀγοραῖοι ] ἀγοραὶ οἷ Chishull cj11709
Acts 20:30 αὐτῶν ] αὑτῶν Stephanus cj10087
Acts 23:3 κρίνων ] κρινῶν Stephanus cj16372
Acts 27:13 ἆσσον ] Ἆσσον Erasmus cj11711
Acts 28:4 δίκη ] Δίκη Markland cj11712
Acts 28:15 οἱ ἀδελφοί ] ἁδελφοί Holwerda cj12481
Rom 1:30 θεοστυγεῖς ] θεοστύγεις Beza cj12729
Rom 5:5 καταισχύνει ] καταισχυνεῖ Pallis cj15728
Rom 5:7 γὰρ τοῦ ] γάρ του Hilgenfeld cj10278
Rom 5:18 εἰς … εἰς ] εἷς … εἷς Bruston cj14705
Rom 7:10 αὕτη ] αὐτή Baumgarten cj10286
Rom 7:14 οἴδαμεν ] οἶδα μέν Semler cj10287
Rom 8:15 ὁ ] ὅ Heinsius cj12893
Rom 8:34 κατακρινῶν ] κατακρίνων Erasmus cj15132
Rom 13:11 ὅτε ] ὁτέ Schmidius cj12956
Rom 13:11 ὅτε ] ὅ τε Oederus cj12957
Rom 14:1 διαλογισμῶν ] διὰ λογισμῶν Mangey cj12958
Rom 14:14 ἑαυτοῦ ] αὑτοῦ Griesbach cj10304
Rom 14:21 μηδὲ ἐν ᾧ ] μηδὲ ἓν ᾧ von Hofmann cj10305
Rom 16:7 Ἰουνίαν ] Ἰουνιᾶν Bentley cj10310
Rom 16:15 Ἰουλίαν ] Ἰουλιᾶν Anonymous cj10311
1 Cor 1:20 συζητητής ] σὺ ζητητής Naber cj10932
1 Cor 3:13 ὅτι ] ὅ τι Lisco cj10317
1 Cor 4:6 τὸ μή ] τὸ Μή Westcott & Hort cj10318
1 Cor 5:13 ἐξάρατε ] ἐξαρεῖ τε Anonymous cj13083
1 Cor 6:11 τινες ] τίνες zu Stolberg cj15035
1 Cor 8:1 οἴδαμεν ] οἶδα μέν Semler cj10324
1 Cor 9:8 ταῦτα ] ταὐτά Erasmus cj10325
1 Cor 9:10 ἤ ] ἦ Hess cj10326
1 Cor 9:15 ἢ – τό ] ἦ τό Bachmann cj10328
1 Cor 11:6 ξυρᾶσθαι ] ξύρασθαι Naber cj13113
1 Cor 11:27 ἂν ἐσθίῃ … τοῦ κυρίου ἀναξίως ] ἂν ἀξίως ἐσθίῃ … τοῦ κυρίου Bois cj16211
1 Cor 12:2 Οἴδατε ] οἶδά τε von Hofmann cj15528
1 Cor 12:2 ὡς ἂν ἤγεσθε ] ὡσὰν ἤγεσθε Bengel cj10329
1 Cor 12:2 ἂν ἤγεσθε ] ἀνήγεσθε Kuenen and Cobet cj15076
1 Cor 14:7 ὅμως ] ὁμῶς Faber Stapulensis cj10332
1 Cor 14:27 εἴτε ] εἴ τε von Hofmann cj10333
1 Cor 15:8 ὡσπερεὶ τῷ ] ὡσπερεί τῳ Rittershusius cj10335
1 Cor 16:16 παντὶ τῷ ] παντί τῳ Hilgenfeld cj10014
1 Cor 16:22 μαράνα θά ] μαρ αναθα von Hofmann cj16054
1 Cor 16:22 μαράνα θά ] txt Nöldeke cj10338
2 Cor 3:14 ὅτι ] ὅ τι Erasmus cj10339
2 Cor 3:17 οὗ ] οὐ Turner cj15654
2 Cor 8:12 καθό … καθό ] καθ’ ὅ … καθ’ ὅ Anonymous cj10340
2 Cor 11:4 ἀνέχεσθε ] ἂν εἴχεσθε Hagge cj10015
Gal 1:7 τινες ] τίνες Baljon cj12701
Gal 1:9 προειρήκαμεν ] προείρηκα μέν Owen cj12499
Gal 2:17 ἆρα ] ἄρα Lachmann cj10341
Gal 2:19 διὰ νόμου ] δι’ ἀνόμου Penn cj15858
Gal 3:15 ὅμως ] ὁμῶς Whitby cj10342
Gal 5:10 ἄλλο φρονήσετε ] ἀλλοφρονήσετε Naber cj14478
Eph 1:1 [ἐν Ἐφέσῳ] ] spatium Ussher cj14590
Eph 1:4 αὐτῷ ] αὑτῷ Morus cj13218
Eph 1:5 αὐτόν ] αὑτόν Erasmus cj10018
Eph 1:9 αὐτῷ ] αὑτῷ Erasmus cj10019
Eph 2:2 αἰῶνα ] Ἀιῶνα Owen cj13223
Eph 2:11 διό ] δι’ ὅ Ewald cj10588
Eph 3:13 ἥτις ] ἢ τίς Ewald cj10345
Eph 4:21 ἀλήθεια ] ἀληθείᾳ Westcott & Hort cj10346
Eph 4:29 ἀλλ’ εἴ ] ἀλλ’ ἀεί Michelsen cj15556
Phil 1:25 ὅτι ] ὅ τι Ewald cj10023
Phil 4:3 σύζυγε ] Σύζυγε Anonymous cj10690
Col 1:15 πρωτότοκος ] πρωτοτόκος Isidore of Pelusium cj10687
Col 1:20 αὐτόν ] αὑτόν Anonymous cj10348
Col 2:13 αὐτῷ ] αὑτῷ Heinrichs cj16166
Col 2:15 αὐτῷ ] αὑτῷ Erasmus cj10024
Col 2:23 καὶ ἀφειδίᾳ … ἐν τιμῇ ] ἀφειδία … ἐντίμη von Dobschütz cj10651
Col 2:23 ἀφειδίᾳ ] ἀφειδία Nestle cj10028
Col 4:13 Ἱεραπόλει ] Ἱερᾷ Πόλει Westcott & Hort cj10029
1 Thess 3:3 μηδένα σαίνεσθαι ] μηδὲν ἀσαίνεσθαι Reiske cj10350
1 Thess 4:6 ἐν τῷ ] ἔν τῳ Rittershusius cj11545
1 Thess 5:11 εἷς ] εἰς Faber Stapulensis cj10352
1 Thess 5:13 ἑαυτοῖς ] αὑτοῖς Schmiedel cj10031
2 Thess 2:4 αὐτόν ] αὑτόν Verschuir cj13370
1 Tim 1:3 προσμεῖναι ] πρόσμειναι Knatchbull cj13376
1 Tim 2:10 ἀλλ’ ὅ ] ἄλλο Wohlenberg cj10032
1 Tim 6:5 διαπαρατριβαί ] δι’ ἃ παρατριβαί Penn cj15860
2 Tim 2:2 μαρτύρων ] μαρτυρῶν Junius cj13854
Heb 1:3 αὐτοῦ ] αὑτοῦ Valckenaer cj12166
Heb 3:6 αὐτοῦ ] αὑτοῦ Stephanus cj13031
Heb 5:3 αὐτοῦ ] αὑτοῦ Griesbach cj10363
Heb 10:6 ὁλοκαυτώματα ] ὁλοκαυτώμα· τά Dähne cj15779
Heb 10:14 μιᾷ γὰρ προσφορᾷ ] μία γὰρ προσφορά Bengel cj10364
Heb 11:11 αὐτὴ Σάρρα ] αὐτῇ Σάρρᾳ Michaelis cj11546
Heb 12:3 ἑαυτόν ] αὑτόν Stephanus cj10366
Jas 2:4 διαλογισμῶν ] διὰ λογισμῶν Mangey cj13842
Jas 3:6 τροχόν ] τρόχον Heinsius cj15284
1 Pet 2:21 ὅτι ] ὅ τι Venema cj13501
1 John 3:20 ὅτι ] ὅ τι Bengel cj10394
1 John 5:18 ἑαυτόν ] αὑτόν Schmiedel cj10395
Jude 1 ἐν θεῷ ] ἐν spatium, θεῷ Green cj10396
Jude 9 ὁ δέ ] ὅ τε von Tischendorf cj10397
Rev 14:13 ἀπ’ ἄρτι ] ἀπαρτί Heinsius cj10404
Rev 16:16 Ἁρμαγεδών ] Ἃρ Μαγεδών Westcott & Hort cj11684
Rev 16:16 Ἁρμαγεδών ] Ἂρ Μαγεδών Schmiedel cj10405
Rev 18:23 φάνῃ ] φανῇ Anonymous cj10410


  1. "There are, of course, examples not listed here (e.g., ἀλλ’ οἷς vs. ἄλλοις in Mk 10.40 or the accenting of ἐσμεν in 1 Jn 3.1)."

    Why are these examples not listed? Is it because the database is a work in progress, or some reason they would not count?

    1. Of course the Amsterdam Database is a work in progress, as it should be, but that is not the main reason some examples have not (yet) been included.
      First, the focus of the database is on conjectures proper and less on editorial alternatives. The origin of the list as it is now lies in the many instances marked with “comm” in Nestle editions before NA26; and sicne in most cases only “comm” (= “commentatores”) is given, you can imagine the amount of work (and fun) we had in finding the earliest sources and elements of reception history … Other instances, not mentioned in the Nestle editions, were added as we came across them, but we did not do a systematic search.
      Second, the criterion for inclusion is scholarly opinion, not mere imaginable ambiguity, or evidence that some version actually reflects an alternative way of reading uncial scriptio continua text. In other words: once we find a critic who supports an editorial alternative, we include it in the database. Indeed, every conjecture and reception history record in the database is a scholarly opinion on a reading (sometimes these opinion go back as far as patristic times).
      By the way: many instances of αὑτοῦ etc. reflect sixteenth-century editorial practice instead of a real difference in meaning; perhaps Nestle included such examples precisely because they illustrate that practice.
      In conclusion: give me a commentary that supports ἄλλοις in Mark 10:40, or ἐσμέν in 1 John 3:1, and I will be happy to include it in the database.
      In fact, I just added the punctuation proposal concerning σήμερον in Luke 23:43; it will be published in October, with the next instalment.

    2. Thank you, Jan.

      I had inferred from Gurry's mention of those examples that the alternative orthographies must have had some notable support somewhere. If that's not the case, then it's completely understandable that the database wouldn't include them.

  2. I think Ewald may be right on Eph 3.13

  3. Great list! I vote for Rom 5:5

  4. This list doesn't account for similar situations where it is not purely conjectural, but a different division has some manuscript support. For example, whether Col 4.3 (NA: δι᾽ ὃ) should be read as διό (M. Bockmuehl, 'A Note on the Text of Colossians 4:3' JTS 39 (1988), 489-494) - not completely conjectural, since acc. Bockmuehl following Wettstein there is manuscript support for διό.

    1. Well, “purely conjectural” in the case of editorial alternatives only concerns lack of attestation in later manuscripts. Since we are talking about the interpretation and disambiguation of uncial text, any editorial choice is in a way attested and allowed (with a proper defence). For that reason, (1) editorial alternatives are always marked as attested in the Amsterdam Database, and (2) I will be happy to include Bockmuehl's opinion in the next instalment.

  5. Can you explain in English how the Greek words ἑαυτῆς and αὑτῆς in Matt 6:34 differ only diacritically?

    1. The Remarks in the Amsterdam Database explain what is going on: “Westcott and Hort print αὑτῆς, without further discussion. It is an editorial alternative of the variant reading αὐτῆς.
      The idea is mentioned in all Nestle editions up to NA25.”

  6. John C. Poirier8/21/2018 3:08 pm

    More than 20 years ago, I argued that the punctuation in John 9:3 is wrong in all the printed editions: "'Day and Night' and the Punctuation of John 9.3," New Testament Studies 42 (1996) 288-94. I improved slightly on my argument in two subsequent pieces: "'Day and Night' and the Sabbath Controversy of John 9," Filología Neotestamentaria 19 (2006) 113-20; "Another Look at the 'Man Born Blind' in John 9," Journal of Religion, Disability, and Health 14/1 (January-March 2010) 60-65.

    1. Can you post type in Greek or describe the proposed change here?

    2. John C. Poirier8/21/2018 6:55 pm

      John 9:2-5 is typically punctuated and divided something like this:

      2 και ηρωτησαν αυτον οι μαθηται αυτου λεγοντες, ραββι τις ημαρτεν ουτος η οι γονεις αυτου ινα τυφλος γεννηθη:
      3 απεκριθη ιησους, ουτε ουτος ημαρτεν ουτε οι γονεις αυτου, αλλ ινα φανερωθη τα εργα του θεου εν αυτω.
      4 ημας δει εργαζεσθαι τα εργα του πεμψαντος με εως ημερα εστιν ερχεται. νυξ οτε ουδεις δυναται εργαζεσθαι. 5 οταν εν τω κοσμω ω φως ειμι του κοσμου.

      This punctuation assumes that αλλ ινα φανερωθη τα εργα του θεου εν αυτω is intended as an explanation for why the man was born blind. I suggest an alternative punctuation:

      2 και ηρωτησαν αυτον οι μαθηται αυτου λεγοντες, ραββι τις ημαρτεν ουτος η οι γονεις αυτου ινα τυφλος γεννηθη:
      3 απεκριθη ιησους, ουτε ουτος ημαρτεν ουτε οι γονεις αυτου.
      [New start:] αλλ ινα φανερωθη τα εργα του θεου εν αυτω, 4 ημας δει εργαζεσθαι τα εργα του πεμψαντος με εως ημερα εστιν ερχεται. νυξ οτε ουδεις δυναται εργαζεσθαι. 5 οταν εν τω κοσμω ω φως ειμι του κοσμου.

      This punctuation assumes that αλλ ινα φανερωθη τα εργα του θεου εν αυτω is intended as the desired goal for "working the works of him that sent me". Note how the theme of "being seen" (φανερωθη) dovetails with the theme of "while it is day"—viz., this work must be done in the day *so it can be seen*. (Among other things, this relieves the text of the troubling notion that God made the man blind just so Jesus could come by, at some point in the man's early adult life, and heal him.)

    3. John C. Poirier8/21/2018 7:17 pm

      Sorry: in v. 4 the full stop should be after εστιν in both instances.

    4. A nice candidate for the Amsterdam Database! There must be many more such proposals, so do not hesitate to let me know.

  7. What about Tregelles' proposal (in his An Account of the Printed Text etc. for 1 Cor 15:29? He moved the question mark from the first νεκρων to βαπτιζομενοι (note that one should de-capitalize ει on this account if it is captilized in the edition one is looking at).

    1. Thanks Stephen, this one as well will be included in the October instalment of the Amsterdam Database.

  8. Two more: In Questions and Rhetoric in the Greek New Testament, 21-22, Douglas Estes turns Jn 2:4b into a question. The International Standard Version (and the Stephanus TR? So at least in BibleWorks) decline to put a comma at the end of 1 Thes 2:14, which potentially has implications for the scope of Paul's assignment of blame. (I think on this second point there's more scholarly literature, but I don't have any sort of bibliography on it at this point.)