Friday, August 16, 2019

Asa or Asaph in Matthew 1: A Teaser for the THGNT Textual Commentary

Yesterday morning, I was reading a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–1892) titled “Concealing the Words of God.” No, the sermon is not about textual criticism, but Spurgeon made a remark that sent my mind back to the arguments surrounding Asa or Asaph in Matt. 1:7–8. Spurgeon said (emphasis mine),
Lay no embargo upon any form of truth; demand no toll for the commodities of heaven. Let your mind be an open port, carrying on a free trade in the treasures of the gospel. Believe whatever God says, because God says it, though you may not always see its why and wherefore or perceive its internal consistency. Be prepared, and even anxious, to know the whole truth as far as you can know it, and let it pervade your entire being with its holy influence. It will be a terrible thing if one of these days you shall have to say “I rejected a great truth. I had a suspicion that it was so, but I did not wish to believe it, and so I shut my ears to its evidence. I had a leaning towards the opposite view, and I felt committed to it, and so refused to alter.” —Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit 25 (1879): 245.
Of course, Spurgeon is talking about theology here, but his remarks have relevance to arguments I’ve come across regarding a textual variant in Matt. 1. Since Spurgeon was not opposed to textual criticism, I’ll use his remark to leap into the Asa/Asaph variant at Matt. 1:7–8. I derive parts of what follows from the forthcoming Textual Commentary for the Tyndale House Greek New Testament that Dirk Jongkind and I are working on.

The variant in question is at Matt. 1:7–8. There are two instances of a name in Matthew’s genealogy—Ἀσά or Ἀσάφ, right at the end of v. 7 and beginning of v. 8. A sampling of the textual evidence breaks down thus, derived mostly from the UBS5 (with languages separated by commas):

Ἀσάφ· ἈσὰφP1(vid ασ̣α̣[φ ασα]φ̣) ℵ B C 700 f1 f13, aur c g1 k q vgmss, sa bo mae, arm, eth, geo, (syhmg) 
Ἀσά· ἈσὰK L W Δ Σ 33 565 1241 892 1424 Byz, (a), f ff1 vg, syc sys syp syh sypalslav
The Tyndale House edition, UBS, NA and SBL editions all go with Ἀσάφ. The earliest manuscripts support Ἀσάφ, as well as much of the Old Latin tradition, all of the Coptic tradition, and most of the ‘minor’ versions. On the other hand, the majority of Greek, Latin and Syriac manuscripts support Ἀσά, as it is supported by the Byzantine Greek text and the Vulgate, as well as some Old Latin and most Syriac versions.

Textually, if one’s preference is for early manuscripts, this decision is easy. There is a clear ‘winner’ among early witnesses in the Greek tradition. Still, the explanation for the variation has caused concern for some. The issue is that in 1 Kings 15:9, this individual is named Asa, not Asaph. Copyists were not unaware of this difference—in GA 1582 (which is close to the archetype of fam. 1), the text has Ἀσάφ, but a marginal note mentions that “Ασα” is the name according to 1 Kings (see Amy S. Anderson, The Textual Tradition of the Gospels: Family 1 in Matthew. NTTS 32. [Leiden: Brill, 2004], 62.)

The question, then, is whether copyists changed Ἀσά to Ἀσάφ, presumably because of the familiarity with the Psalmist, or did copyists see Ἀσάφ, perceive an error and ‘correct’ it, writing Ἀσά and conforming the text to 1 Kings?

Metzger writes that Ἀσάφ likely came about because “the evangelist may have derived material for the genealogy, not from the Old Testament directly, but from subsequent genealogical lists, in which the erroneous spelling occurred” (Textual Commentary, 2nd ed. [Stuttgart: German Bible Society, 1994], 1). If one believes that the original text is inerrant, one would rightly be suspicious of Metzger’s explanation here. That being said, one must not fall into the fallacy of a false dilemma and think that one must accept Metzger’s reason in order to accept the same text as Metzger.

In the current draft of the forthcoming Textual Commentary for the THGNT, we write the following to support the decision to print Ἀσάφ:

The text is adopted on the basis of its early evidence. The king’s name is given as Ἀσά thoughout 1 Kings 15, which could have led scribes to think the reading Ἀσάφ is an error, even as some modern scholars have suggested.[1] The similarity of the names Ἀσάφ (also note the Psalmist of the same name) and Ἀσά could have led to confusion as well.  
The name used in the Hebrew text of 1 Kings 15 is אָסָא (Asa), and a legitimate interpretation of this name is that it is a hypocorism (a shortened name)—an alternative form of the same name,אָסָף  (Asaph).[2] An alternative explanation for the use of Ἀσάφ might be that Matthew knows Hebrew better than his later copyists, and for the king who is called Asa in 1 Kings 15, Matthew uses the longer form of his name, Asaph.

[1] For example, Bruce M. Metzger suggests that Matthew may have copied Ἀσάφ from “genealogical lists, in which the erroneous spelling occurred,” in Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Biblegesellschaft, 1994), 1. W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison also suggest that Ἀσάφ is an error, corrected by later scribes in The Gospel According to Saint Matthew: Volume 1, International Critical Commentary (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1988), 175.
[2] On אָסָא as a hypocorism (a shortened form) of אסף and the divine name but אָסָף as a hypocorism of the divine name and אסף, see Wilhelm Gesenius, Hebräisches und Aramäisches Handwörterbuch über das Alte Testament: Gesamtausgabe, ed. Herbert Donner, 18th ed. (Heidelberg: Springer, 2013), 83, 85. We are indebted to Pete Myers for this reference.

If one wanted to push the evidence a bit further, one might conclude that having the right text (Ἀσάφ) supports traditional views about Matthean authorship better than the majority reading, Ἀσά. If the author of Matthew’s Gospel was a Hebrew-speaking Christian, wouldn’t it make sense that he knew how Hebrew names worked better than his Greek- and Latin-speaking copyists centuries later?

As Spurgeon said, Believe whatever God says, because God says it, though you may not always see its why and wherefore or perceive its internal consistency. Our priority should be for the text and what it is, trusting that it is internally consistent even if we do not always perceive it so. When I was discussing this passage with a friend, he said something helpful to me once we found the explanation of hypocorism. “The thing you’ve got to remember,” he said, “is that the text [i.e. Asaph] was already perfect and without error long before we found an explanation for why it is perfect and without error.”


  1. Probably a minor point, but is not hypocorism more common in in the Hebrew of the turn of the era than it was more ancient times? If so, would it not seem more likely, if the king's name was Y(h)w'sp/'spyh, that a pe would be represented in the OT text but not in the NT text than that the reverse would be the case?

  2. "If one believes that the original text is inerrant, one would rightly be suspicious of Metzger's explanation here."

    I don't see Metzger's explanation as incompatible with the inerrancy of the autograph. First, because his explanation fits nicely with the commentary you provided. But also because the choice of what name to call someone is not a matter of truth or falsehood. If some source of Matthew's called that ancestor of Jesus by the name Asaph, then that was a name that that ancestor had, regardless of whether or not it was etymologically connected to the name Asa.

    By analogy, 2 Timothy uses the names Jannes and Jambres for the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses. Believing in the inerrancy of 2 Timothy doesn't obligate me to believe that the ancient Egyptian names their contemporaries called them were in any way at all similar to or etymologically connected to the names Jannes and Jambres. Even if the first people ever to call them by those names were embellishers of the story centuries after the events took place, it would still be the case that these were truly names that those two had at the time that 2 Timothy was written, so that Paul would not have said an untruth by his use of those names expecting his audience to know who he was talking about. Nor does his use of them constitute an endorsement of any other extrabiblical embellishments of the biblical account of them.

  3. The main thing to say here is, it's exciting to hear that a new textual commentary is in the works! Particularly as it is based on the THGNT. While I'm not prepared so say I'm convinced on all points, I am nevertheless a fan of this edition, and of the heart it represents.

  4. On the other hand, this line of thought carries the assumption that somehow various early Christian scribes were well equipped in the understanding of a particular Hebrew nuance when elsewhere these same scribes often botched proper names left and right. To pass the blame to Matthew's supposedly superior Hebrew-based "authorial" sense seems more like clutching at straws than anything else.

    The case is similar with the numerous misspellings of proper names among MSS of the LXX, including Asa itself (to which John Meade should be able to attest).

    In this case, it is far easier to presume a scribal blunder among some of those early MSS based on attraction to a more familiar name, rather than a more convoluted explanation, whether that of Metzger, the current appeal to Hebrew nuances, or even Poythress' "prophet, priest, king" interpretation.

    In this case, I would side with Occam over more complex appeals to Gesenius or Matthew's presumed knowledge of Hebrew name nuances.

  5. Matthew M. Rose8/16/2019 6:27 pm

    Considering there is no evidence of LXX assimilation (Asa is always spelled Asa in the Greek OT as far as I can tell),--And that Asaph is obviously contrary to the Hebrew and LXX. I lean towards compound parabelipsis due to partial homoeomeson.

    ENTONACAACAE Asa Asa being located TONI♤CAQATE above Jehosaphat.

    Very similar to the placement in codex E,--where the phi (one line below) lines up nearly perfectly between the two alpha's (above). If it wasn't for the dots placed between the two ACA•ACA they would line up perfectly. The sheer repetition of vocabulary would assist this scribal mishap, as would the double format of proper names (back to back no less). Therfore the error would not need (theoretically) to happen twice because the scribe has been primed to write every name twice.


    1. Matthew M. Rose8/25/2019 8:11 am

      Thank you Dr. Williams. I must of passed over this comment by accident. Considering how much I have enjoyed your teaching over the years,-I'm afraid I must owe you a dozen or more of the very same compliment!

    2. Thanks for this idea to consider. I think, ultimately, I'm a bit uncomfortable with it though, at least, the way you described it, because it seems too tied to a particular format—if the text was written in a format where they lined up. There's simply no way of knowing though how many letters were written per line in the earliest copies, and I'm uncomfortable hanging an argument on "if they were formatted this way, that would make this explanation easier". That is especially the case in light of the observation that readings have been adopted with less external support than Ἀσάφ has here, so why such opposition to Ἀσάφ?

    3. Matthew M. Rose8/28/2019 3:53 am

      Considering that the total number of examples I gave (P1 E W 1071 1216 1342 1365 1582 & let's add ms.1 for good measure) is nearly equal to the total number of Greek manuscripts that read "Asaph", I fail to see your point. Especially considering that several (P1 1 1071 1582) of these amount in total to nearly half of the apparatus for the "Asaph" reading (unless someone has more here?). Furthermore I included every type of manuscript, medium and writing form, i.e.; papyrus and parchment, uncial and minuscule.-And to be quite honest, I have no doubts whatsoever that I could find 50-100 mss. which line up exactly like the mss. already listed if needs be.

      E.Hixson wrote "That is especially the case in light of the observation that readings have been adopted with less external support than Aσάφ has here, so why such opposition to Aσάφ?"

      I would have serious reservations with any type of Textual Criticism done in this manner. "the soul that sinneth, it shall die." This place, as with all others, stands or falls on it's own merit. What difference would it make if someone somewhere has adopted readings with less external support than here? Is it not possible that those readings are in need of being reevaluated as well? Respectfully. -MMR


  7. Spelling variations for Ασα exist among various MSS of the LXX, even if such might not appear in printed editions.

    Also, this discussion has curiously neglected the similar issue involving Αμων/Αμώς in Mt 1.10 -- a variant similarly found among the early MSS that does not fit in with the type of explanations already suggested for the Ασα/Ασαφ variation.

    1. Matthew M. Rose8/16/2019 8:09 pm

      Sorry about that. I meant Asa, as in King Asa. I've only seen Asa and Ossa in the Lxx, but Ossa is another individual if I recall correctly.

      Is King Asa ever spelled Asaph?

  8. Someone else will have to check the Cambridge or Göttingen LXX for variant readings at occurrences of Ασα since my LXX resources are nil at this point and I am relying only on memory.

    1. Thank you Dr. Robinson. I will check next week at the Claremont Library (they should have both works).

      Now as far as Matt. 1:10 Amon/Amos goes. There is definitely some editorial assimilation going on there between the Lxx and St.Matthew (possibly both ways). Looks like Helenization (Amon>Amos) and then assimilation to me. Codex B even seems to tell on itself as it were. -MMR

    2. Matthew M. Rose8/25/2019 10:18 am

      Concerning the spelling of Asa within the Greek OT. Now there are 57 instances of Asa in the Hebrew OT, unfortunately this number varies greatly among LXX mss. due to omissions (some hom. tel. and evidently a habit of cropping often repeated phrases).

      With that said, I checked every one I could find (50 or so) within; Rahlfs Gottingen .1935, Swete Cambridge .1895 & Tischendorf .1880 respectively (I had previously scanned Brenton). In short, I found no variation in spelling of Asa (as in King Asa) within the text or footnote apparatus in either edition. Now there may be some variation in one/some of the many extant LXX mss., but these editions mentioned above do not give record. Now I suppose it's possible that I could have missed one or two references due to certain oddities (ommision of sections, omission of phrases, transpositions, differences in verse division, etc.) that anyone who is familiar with the LXX is fully aware of, but I think it not likely. Even so, the primary sections (I Kings 15-16 & II Chron. 14-16) having Asa spelt the standard way so many times would lead me to think it's extremely unlikely that Asa could be spelled any other way than Asa (due to it's frequent occurrence within said chapters) in these editions. Meaning simply this; if I did miss one reference in any one of these editions the chances that it could be a place where spelling variation exist are slim or none!

      -And yet... there is one instance of spelling variation, "Ossa" for Asa in I Chron. 9:16. (Which was touched on in a previous comment.) Brenton, Rahlfs and Swete all read "Ossa" in the text, although some record that Cod.A reads "Asa" in the foot. Now this is a mute point for a variety of reasons, the chief being;
      1. This is not Asa son of Abia and King of Judah, it's Asa son of Berechiah, a Levite and 2. "Ossa" is not any closer to "Asaph" than "Asa" is, to be fair it's further away.

      Now, for the fun part! In an amusing coincidence (and that is all it can be) there are "Some codices, with two early printed editions (one Marg.), and Syr.,[which] read "Asaph"." -Bullinger "Companion Bible"[brackets mine], in this location-I Chron.9:16.
      Now the fact that this is not King Asa and that these are Hebrew OT codices makes this nothing more than an interesting coincidence. Although, if one takes a closer look at the Hebrew, the cause of this obvious error within the Hebrew OT tradition becomes clear. For, "ben Asaph" is located directly above "ben Asa" in the Hebrew text. Therefore, I think it's safe to say that a scribe simply mistook the "final pe" of Asaph with the last "aleph" of Asa,-Both letters being quite similar and both preceded by the same two identical letters. So, as it appears we have found a sub-singular example (within the Hebrew Text of all places) exhibiting a similar type of scribal error as has been given above in regards to Asa-Asaph in The fact that it involves Asa turning into Asaph in both places is charming to say the least.

    3. Yes, Thank you for this Matthew. I would again point to the proposed explanation—hypocorism in Hebrew. For Greek scribes to make the same change, that would simply be scribal error (or perhaps intentional change), not substitution because Ἀσά and Ἀσάφ are alternate forms of the same name. I'm not sure how well a lack of Ἀσά > Ἀσάφ variations in Greek disproves the hypocorism hypothesis; if anything, it shows that (later) Greek scribes understood the two names to be two different names, not alternate forms of the same name—which is exactly what we proposed.

    4. Are there ever any hypocoristic variations of Asa as Asaph among the Hebrew MSS? If not, I would think the claim oversteppeth too much. Perhaps check Kennicott and Rossi.

    5. This is a good question. I assume if someone wanted to publish an article overturning the possibility of hypocorism, a good place to start would be Gesenius (as cited) and Hebrew manuscripts as you suggest.

  9. Elijah,
    << The name used in the Hebrew text of 1 Kings 15 is אָסָא (Asa), and a legitimate interpretation of this name is that it is a hypocorism (a shortened name)—an alternative form of the same name,אָסָף (Asaph). >>

    What makes that legitimate? That it has not been proven to be impossible?

    1. James, thanks for this. The logic of the discussion: First the text (Ἀσάφ), then a proposed explanation. We cite Gesenius for the proposed explanation—that would be where to go for proving/disproving legitimacy.

  10. As the old maxim states: Many things are *possible* but not necessarily *probsble*. I would seek a higher (and manuscript-based) standard of "proof" for such claims as opposed to bare assertion.

  11. Thank you all for your comments. Feedback like this is exactly the reason why it's good to send out bits of unpublished work. I will try to respond to most people here.

    On the hypocorism comments: I think it would certainly be interesting to look more into this. For now, we cite Gesenius for the explanation. If someone wants to do a more thorough study that might change my mind on why Matthew wrote Ἀσάφ (though, this would not be the only instance in Matthew where the text seems to indicate a knowledge of Hebrew), I would certainly welcome it. I was speaking to a friend about it yesterday who sent me a message after reading this post, and he suggested that it might be helpful to look through all the instances of Asa/Asaph in Hebrew manuscripts in addition to the Greek. However, given that we have the note in 1582 (and it looks like the same note is in GA 1, though it is a bit obscured there, so the note likely goes back to the fam. 1 archetype), that suggests that decently early on, Christian scribes knew that there appeared to be a discrepancy between 1 Kings and Matt 1:7–8. Given the early Greek evidence and the versional attestation for Ἀσάφ, with the note in 1 1582, it seems more likely for (later) scribes to drop the φ than add it.

    James and Maurice, on possible vs. probable: I think Eric's comment is similar to the ultimate point of the post, which is that if we are going to say that the text is inerrant, we must say first that whatever the text *is* is inerrant rather than using inerrancy as a text-critical decision maker. Too often, I see people point to the Asa/Asaph variant as 'proof' that modern Bible versions are corrupt, but this is the wrong approach. The reason it is the wrong approach is because it shifts inerrancy away from the text and onto the interpreter. If someone can declare that Asaph is an error, then that's really a statement that he or she has an inerrant interpretation the passage and has the authority to pronounce the text to be in error. Our posture should rather be that the text—whatever the text is—is not in error, even if we don't immediately understand why. This is really not that different than what we see in theological systems. When theologians who ascribe to a system of theology are confronted with a text that does not easily fit their theology, they usually don't abandon their theological system immediately. Usually, the approach is "well, somehow this fits into my system; I just need to know *how* it does". I've never known a Calvinist tell another Calvinist that they should reject Calvinism just because neither one of them had a good and easy explanation of the warning passages in Hebrews. Ultimately, there does not seem to be sufficient reason not to print the earliest-attested text, Ἀσάφ, so we offer the hypocorism explanation as a possible solution, and we'll open the conversation to others to follow it up in Greek/Hebrew. After all, the discussion clearly states in the opening line: "The text is adopted on the basis of its early evidence [full stop]".

    Maurice—on manuscript-based standard of proof, I think the manuscript-based part is that the text is Ἀσάφ rather than in the interpretation of why Matthew wrote Ἀσάφ. I do see bare assertion from those who think Ἀσάφ invalidates modern versions, but to me that is an argument *for* Ἀσάφ: if we in 2019 can think that Asaph must be an error and must be rejected, then couldn't early copyists think that too? Or are we just smarter than they were? (And we mention this in the first paragraph.) On Amon/Amos in Matt. 1:10, it is a similar situation but a different discussion in the textual commentary. This post was only intended to share one discussion, not both.

    1. >>If someone wants to do a more thorough study that might change my mind on why Matthew wrote Ἀσάφ (though, this would not be the only instance in Matthew where the text seems to indicate a knowledge of Hebrew)<<

      As someone with a knowledge of Hebrew, I don't understand why someone with such a knowledge would write (or think to write) אסף in place of אסא. Aleph and Peh look nothing like each other in either the Aramaic or Paleo-Hebrew scripts. And so far as I know, there is no instance of a Hebrew writer referring to King Asa as King Asaph before our manuscripts of Matthew. So I would love for you to elaborate on your statement above.

    2. David (see what I did there?),

      What you're describing—with dissimilarities of Aleph and Peh—would be scribal error, not the hypocorism explanation offered.

  12. As an important point of clarification, at least from my perspective:

    A doctrine of inerrancy is *not* and never should be the driving force for determination of the "correct" variant. Rather, what we have here is simply a recognition that scribes readily could blunder and assimilate to far more familiar names (in the cases mentioned, Asaph and Amos).

    This is no different than recognizing a similar scribal error among many of the same witnesses (א* Θ f1 f13 33 pc) at Mt 13.35 where Ησαιου is wrongly cited as the author of Ps 78.2. Simply a matter of recognizing scribal blunder where it occurs, and and nothing more. I would suggest the same can be said of the geographical blunder in Lk 4.44, where the Ιουδαιων reading of the critical text does not comport in the historical time frame with the other synoptic parallels that explicitly state Galilee as the proper locale (Mk 1.39,Mt 4.23).

    Were inerrancy *really* a driving factor, one would think inerrantists would follow a minority reading in Mt 27.9 to resolve the apparent contradiction of attributing to Jeremiah what seems more likely to be from Zechariah -- but no inerrantist that I know of has seen fit to do so.

    To put it simply, the establishment of the text is prerequisite to any application of inerrancy regarding interpretation of the same. And scribal blunders can and do produce errors involving history, geography, and and fact.

    1. Matthew M. Rose8/19/2019 8:04 pm

      Another interesting variant where inerrancy has played a factor is Luke 2:22 (as you are most assuredly already privy of). Funny how such a small difference could open,-such a big can of theological worms.

    2. Maurice, thank you for your comments. As you say, "To put it simply, the establishment of the text is prerequisite to any application of inerrancy regarding interpretation of the same. And scribal blunders can and do produce errors involving history, geography, and and fact." I think we are in complete agreement there.

  13. Elijah,

    << if we are going to say that the text is inerrant, we must say first that whatever the text *is* is inerrant rather than using inerrancy as a text-critical decision maker. >>

    I'm not sure what that means, but I hope it's another way to express what MAR stated: "A doctrine of inerrancy is *not* and never should be the driving force for determination of the "correct" variant."

    Meanwhile: what would prevent a copyist very early in the Alexandrian stream from writing ASAF by sheer accident, when his line of sight momentarily shifted ahead to the series of letters SAF in Jehosaphat's name? And that this mistake failed to be corrected due to scribes' use of the same sort of reasoning seen in the earlier comments?

    1. James, I think 'the same sort of reasoning' applies most easily to a change from Ἀσάφ to Ἀσά. We know that Christians knew what the text was in 1 Kings (from f1), and if anything, the comments on this thread do show a particular resistance to Ἀσάφ. Nothing would prevent the jump, but why is the variation here centered around the name? It seems to me that if there was a leap, we'd probably see more evidence of an omission or something like that—it should have more markers of being a leap than it does, for lack of a better way of putting it. If it were a corrected leap, then why was everything but the name corrected? At that moment, once the scribe realized it was a leap, he or she would likely have focused in on the text and had been sure to copy it correctly. What you propose really seems to require two-copy events: one to make the leap, and another one to correct it, add in the missing parts, but not change Ἀσάφ back to Ἀσά. As I said somewhere earlier in the comments, readings are adopted on less evidence with this, and in light of 1 Kings and the f1 note, what's wrong with Ἀσάφ here?

  14. Matthew M. Rose8/17/2019 9:18 pm

    As mentioned above, Codex E (07) serves as a good example of how scribal error (parabelipsis) could explain the variation Asa<>Asaph within an Uncial ms..


    Another very interesting ms. in regards to this variant is the miniscule ms. 1582. I would urge anyone interested in this matter to consult this ms.. (, check miniscules, check gospels and scroll down to 1582. It's the 15th image down from the top, left side and has a black blotch about dead center.) The first Asa(ph) is one line above the blotch, directly to the right. The second is directly to the left of the blotch and is very clear.

    The blotted out phi of the first hand (1582*) is directly above the phi contained in Josaphat in both locations. It literally could not be lined up better if one tried. Considering the repetition of the genealogy and that this section is far enough down for a scribe to get into the groove and cadence of the genealogical structure, with it's back-to-back pairings of proper names. I am convinced that scribal error is the most probable cause of this variation. It's also very possible that some scribes got into the habit of simply rewriting the second name without consulting their respective exemplar(s).

    Now concerning the external evidence for Asa, it has not been given a proper estimation by many.

    EKLMW Delta Pi Sigma 28 33 Byz. Lect. it (a),f,ff1 vulg. syr.c,s,p,h,pal slav Aug. Ps-Eust.

    The versional attestation provides solid evidence that this reading is older than either Aleph or B. Thus, both readings are "old" (as usual).
    Furthermore the common reading exibits strong geographic and textual diversity. It also demonstrates a much stronger continuity. After Aleph B and C, the Asaph reading all but dies out in the Greek. Meanwhile the Vulgate, Syriac and Byzantine Text type hold the field. Considering that Asa is also in line with the Hebrew OT (and Lxx for the most part), I for one would stick with the common Text. -MMR

    1. Matthew M. Rose8/18/2019 3:25 am

      "And again", Manuscript 1071 ( ms.1071 9th image down left hand side) There is a blank space in the center of the ms. consisting of 1-1/2 columns. Directly to the right of the second (1/2) empty column is the Asa(ph)-to-Jehosaphat entry in the genealogy. Once again it is a copyist minefield. It would appear that the structure of this ms.(1071) is also conducive towards the probability of scribal error.

  15. I think Matthew Rose's idea deserves further consideration.

    I'd not trust the Syriac versions on matters of spelling as they tend to adapt forms, even brilliantly giving Ruth a middle ayin.

    A clear case of divergence from MT occurs in both Matthew and Luke record Obed as ιωβηδ. Here I presume that we may have an adaptation to the ιω- beginning which derives from yaw < yahu < YHWH.

    1. Matthew M. Rose8/19/2019 7:30 pm

      Concerning the "further consideration" that the good Dr. Williams has spoke of. I, for one, am of the opinion that "further consideration" deserves further evidence.

      Ms.1216 ( ms.1216, 16th image down-right hand side.)

      If one sets his eyes upon the left hand page, third line down from the top and dead center, the section in question will become quite visible.
      Here, as before, we have another example of how scribal error may occur. The first aoa (asa) lines up one line above (and rather nicely) with the second iwoaQat (Josaphat).

      "And again" Ms.1365 ( ms.1365 5th image down-left hand side.) If the carefully observer counts five lines up from the bottom of the left page the Asa-Josaphat entry will be at hand. Once again we find Asa in very close proximity (one line above) Josaphat.

      Codex W and ms.1342 also show clear evidence of the second Asa (in this case) being located directly above Jehosaphat. Which, again, could cause copyist and scribes much trouble...Which brings us to P1. ( Papyrus 1 left hand image.)

      If one locates the coin sized hole near the middle of the page you will notice what Mr.Elijah Hixson has so kindly pointed out above. Namely, aoa[Q aoa]Q...Now technically the second phi is not visible, although it appears that the bottom of the vertical stroke as well as the right outer edge of the center oval is still visible on the tattered papyrus. Directly below (what would be the second Asaph) is the Josaphat (iwoaQat) entry in the genealogical table. Notice that the vertical lines of the two phi's line up plumb. The only objection to this that I can see is that maybe the scribe wrote "asa asa asa" in an apparent act of dittography. Other than that, there is too much space in the lacuna for only asa asa. Asaph Asaph therfore being the most probable explanation, as the learned E. Hixson has already expained.

      I hope this information gives assistance to anyone interested in this matter. -MMR

    2. Matthew M. Rose8/19/2019 9:51 pm

      Papyrus 1- the "coin sized hole in the middle" I spoke of, is more square than round and noticeably lower and to the right than my memory served me. -MMR

  16. Another consideration: other than the note in 1582 (which looks like an admission that the copyist was willing to conceded a discrepancy in his exemplar) is there any patristic evidence at all in which someone undertakes to explain how Asaph and Amon got into Jesus' genealogy? Or in which someone proposes that it's just a technical matter involving different forms of the same name?

  17. In the main blog post, there were the sentences:
    "The earliest manuscripts support Ἀσάφ"
    "Textually, if one's preference is for early manuscripts, this decision is easy. There is a clear 'winner' among early witnesses in the Greek tradition."

    One thing we need to remember is that we do not have the oldest manuscripts. The oldest surviving manuscripts may or may not read the same as the oldest manuscripts, the autographs.
    Whether the oldest surviving manuscripts read the same as the oldest manuscripts depends not only on the time between them and the number of times the manuscripts were re-copied, but also how well each manuscript in the chain were copied. If a person in Syria or Egypt or Rome knew the local language much better than he knew Greek, it would not be surprising if he made a mistake when copying a Greek manuscript. Such mistakes could happen anywhere, but they would be likely to occur in little-used words like names. Some of the early papyri seem to show this unfamiliarity of the scribe with Greek. Could this have been the origin of "Asaph" in a few manuscripts--and they were early manuscripts, including P1. Codex W attests the reading of Asa by the 5th century, but there might be Greek writings from before that time that would attest to both readings. At any rate, like Matthew M. Rose said, the versional attestation provides solid evidence that this reading is older than either Aleph or B. What we are all interested in is which was original. And it looks like both could be explained, at least by a stretch, as not an error.

    Later, the author commented,
    "On manuscript-based standard of proof, I think the manuscript-based part is that the text is Ἀσάφ rather than in the interpretation of why Matthew wrote Ἀσάφ. I do see bare assertion from those who think Ἀσάφ invalidates modern versions, but to me that is an argument *for* Ἀσάφ: if we in 2019 can think that Asaph must be an error and must be rejected, then couldn't early copyists think that too? Or are we just smarter than they were?"

    I know that I am not, but maybe some of you are. If it would turn out that the person who copied the archetype of the Asaph variant apparently did not know Greek very well and made an innocent copyist error, then wouldn't it mean that those who know Greek well and have invested a lot of time into Bible study and textual criticism would be in the place to concede that it was an error? Or on the other hand, if the reading of Asa is a harmonization (which I think is unlikely, but let's consider the possibility), it seems to me that many textual critics have decided that they were smarter than (if you want to put it that way) many scribes who wrote Asa when they knew of the Asaph variant and yet wrote Asa. (If the Asaph variant was original, it would have been in many copies across the churches, and more than one scribe would have known of both variants when Asa was introduced). It seems that the question is not who is smarter than who, but how the variant (whichever appeared later) arose.

    1. Matthew B, I'm not sure many scribes would have known about the Ἀσάφ reading. Once it's been changed to Ἀσά—especially as a correction to a perceived mistake, there is no need to mention the 'incorrect' form. I imagine the vast majority of copyists who wrote Ἀσά had Ἀσά in front of them without any indication of a variant there. As a perceived error, it would seem unlikely for Ἀσάφ to stick around once Ἀσά came into the mix.

  18. Again, I see the easier solution in both 1.7-8 and 1.10 to be scribal error caused by familiarity with the more common names Asaph and Amos (psalmist and prophet) as opposed to the less familiar kings Asa and Amon. This even more so than a presumed skip to parts of Jehoshaphat on a following line. Occam once more.

    As a related question: if Hebrew hypocorism is presumed to produce the form אסא in Hebrew as a basis for Matthew's Greek, does a longer form ever appear in the Hebrew OT text itself?

    If not, I would question the merits of such a claim in relation to Matthew's presumed superior and relatively arcane knowledge of that particular Hebrew nuance.

    1. Matthew M. Rose8/20/2019 12:22 am

      This explanation would require an unproven presupposition. Namely, that the copyist or scribe has a working (and rather full) knowledge of the OT Hebrew and/or Greek Text. Full enough to form a subconscious opinion on such matters no less. Furthermore it is quite arbitrary whether one considers Asa less familiar than Asaph,--or the other way around. I will grant you that (generally speaking) Amos is more familiar than Amon (primarily because a canonized book is named after him) and to a lesser degree; Asaph over Asa (primarily because the Psalms). Even so, to insinuate that ancient scribes (generally speaking) had a working knowledge of the OT like our seasoned Dr. Robinson would be extremely unlikely in my view. As far as the Amon<>Amos situation goes. I would lean towards scribal error in this situation as well. Although parabelipsis would be the cause from my perspective. Primarily because I am at a loss how one could weigh or estimate the probability of a mental lapse over-against the probability of an error of the eye, or slip of the pen. (If that makes sense.)

  19. If a scribe were part of an early monastic community, memorization of the Psalms would be requisite, as well as at least knowing the authors of the various prophetic books.

    Familiarity with all the minor kings of Judah would likely not be in their immediate periphery.

    I would suggest much the same applies today, whether involving laypeople or even many clergy.

    1. Matthew M. Rose8/20/2019 1:18 am

      The key word being "If". Now my question to you Dr. Robinson would be this; which is more likely (?), that an occurrence of scribal error is due to a slip of the pen via parabelipsis (errors of the eye)-or that it is due to a habitual subconscious mental lapse? To put it another way; how many errors occur within the Greek NT tradition are due to Parabelipsis and how many occur due to the type of mental lapse you are advocating?

  20. Each case depends on the exigencies of the particular context.

    In the present instance, particularly in view of the versional support for the Asaph variant, I would suggest name familiarity to be a more proximate cause than a parableptic leap forward to influence a preceding name occurrence; such a leap more likely should have resulted in omission of the intervening words rather than alteration of a single preceding word.

    Note also that Codex Bezae, while not present in the Matthean portion, reads Asaph and Amos in its Matthean-harmonized version of the Lukan genealogy (not present in other MSS). This, in combination with various Old Latin and Coptic witnesses with the Syriac standing against such, suggests to me more of an original Latin-based corruption that ended up being adopted among the Copts, and thereby influencing various Egyptian or "Alexandrian" manuscript clusters.

    1. Matthew M. Rose8/20/2019 6:27 am

      Well, that's one way to answer (or not my question-but I jest.

      My rebuttal is simply this: If these early copyist/scribes were so familiar with the OT and therefore simply substituted the more familiar names of Asaph and Amos for the lesser known Asa and Amon.--Then how do you explain their obvious ignorance in the OT when they have interpolated a minor prophet and a famous author of a dozen Psalms into the king list of Judah?--Nay, the genealogy of King David! This presupposes not only a total lack of knowledge in the books of I&II Kings and I&II Chronicles, but also exibits that they were rather unfamiliar with who Asaph and Amos truly were (otherwise why would one include them in a genealogy of which they have no quarter). Which, as far as I can tell, totally undermines your position. Does it not?

  21. Christian scribes of the third century or later who did not come out of a strong OT/Jewish background would hardly be expected to have a detailed knowledge of the Judean dynasty (as with most Christians today), and quite unconsciously in the process of copying a "boring" genealogical list of names, could have altered unfamiliar names to something more familiar, with no intent to actually alter or corrupt the text.

    Familiarity with some common OT names does not imply expertise in all OT matters any more than those today who are familiar with the phrase "Jumpin' Jehoshaphat" would be able to locate his narrative without a concordance. So I hardly see an issue when examining this possibility, and still consider this explanation more likely than the parableptic leap forward suggested.

    But each to one's own hypothesis.

    1. Matthew M. Rose8/20/2019 8:01 pm

      Is not occam dependent upon perspective in this case? Scribal error due to Parablepsis is much more common than scribal error due to a subconscious mental lapse, is it not? Now concerning your hypothesis, I would hold it second to mine and truth be told I am content with standing beside (or behind) you in defense of what we both hold to be the true reading "Asa". Nevertheless, is not your position in this place Asa-Asaph purely conjectural? As where I have based mine upon ms. evidence, namely; codex E, mss.1071,1582, 1216, 1365 and others?

      I fully understand how the technical language of what I'm proposing could scare off or imply a more difficult narrative than necessary.

      Let's be honest, compound dittography-transposition, caused by parablepsis due to homoeomeson (CAQA) and homoeoteleuton (CA)-homoeoacrton (A) sounds a bit extravagant.-And yet Dittography, Transposition, Hom.Arc., Hom.Mes. and Hom. Tel. are the most common of errors.-And once again Parablepsis is usually the cause for most of these errors. Therefore the overly verbose jargon must needs be qualified by the actual evidence. Meaning, if one looks at the ms. evidence I presented, the proposed explanation becomes much more feasible. It is not difficult to see how a copyist using any of these ms. as an exemplar could make this error. Now I will admit that it is not nearly as common for dittography to happen by parablepsis via HT,HA or HM, as it for haplography.- But I have seen hundreds of times where parablepsis via Hom.Tel. is the most probable cause of tranposition. Many of which are in Matthew's Gospel. With the unique (and rare) structure of the genealogical table in mind, I see good reason not to discount a unique (and rare) form of scribal error to match. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. -MMR

    2. Even if one asserts paranlepsis as a proximate cause, the larger problem as I have noted is that such should have resulted in omission of the intervening words, which didn't happen there in any MS, so far as I know (which means *no* actual MS evidence).

    3. In addition, as I have noted previously, I see both the Asa/Asaph and Amon/Amos units as traveling together (with common support for both deviating forms in Aleph B C f1 OL Cop). Parablepsis simply doesn't work with the Amon/Amos reading, whereas name familiarity as a proximate cause does work in both instances.

    4. Matthew M. Rose8/20/2019 10:48 pm

      Interesting. Are you saying that a parableptic error must always by default result in haplography(?)--Even when the suspect location is directly below (one line) the place where the error has occurred?

      Why could the scribe not have skipped from -CA (down one line) to -CAQA- and then back (via the A) to ACA and finish it off with the phi in an act of pure repetition?

      As I stated before, parablepsis via HT is a major cause of tranposition, meaning the whole text is still extant even after the swapping of places.

      I must state that I truly appreciate your input and consequently your output! Feel free to charge me by the hour Doc!

    5. Wouldn't this be confusing Parablepsis with Haplography? The cause of the error (false/distorted vision) with the type of error (accidental omission by writing once what should be written twice)?

    6. As stated before regarding Occam: I see no need to further complicate the issue by positing a multiple-step process.

      At best, you might be arguing for attraction to the immediate context -- but even this usually involves whole words or verb endings rather than the picking up of a single letter from a following line.

      As I said, each to one's own hypothesis and leave it at that.

    7. Matthew M. Rose8/21/2019 5:02 am

      Fair enough-and-thank you!

      With that said I believe we are hunting different game. You Sir, are hunting Deer, Moose, Elk and Bear because you have seen them and have killed them. Therefore you know they exist! I on the other hand am also hunting Deer, Moose, Elk and well as Dragons. You (for good reason) refuse to believe in Dragons because you have never seen or slain one. Very understandable! I will go hunting for Dragons and if or when I find and slay; one, or two, or good Sir will be the first to know. God bless & thank you again. Sincerely -MMR

      P.S. If and when I do find them, however long it may take. I hope you'll agree that..."Jumpin' Jehosaphat" will take on a whole new meaning.

    8. Matthew M. Rose8/27/2019 9:54 am

      Beowulf has returned...but before we see the Grendel, a bit of background may be of service.

      "Complex-Compound Scribal Errors",-At least that is how I have labled them for some years now. These consist of rare and sometimes abnormal types of scribal mishap. Originally, when I began to survey the NT Text I would occasionally run accross such phenomena, unfortunately I did not began to denote such errors until I had seen several. Even so, once I did began to mark them within my notes or within the margins of my various Greek NT's via customized sigla (basically a sideways "z" with an arrow ">" at the end, this was a simple way to denote complicated or multi-faceted scribal errors), the occurrence was exceedingly rare! In comparison to your run of the mill & hom.arc. they rear their heads in the proportion of approx. 1 or 2-to-100 (In my studies at least).

      The most common type of these "Complex-Compound Scribal Errors" are what I came to call "Hyper-parablepsis". This type, when identified, were marked with the aforementioned sigla and/or the words "double skip". For example; Matt 17:23 "EGEP@HCETAI [KAI ELYπH@HCAN @HCAN CQODA] EL@ONTWN" cod.K and a few others (pc.) omit the bracketed portion. The proposed cause being ...TAI->KAI...then hom.arc. ELY...->EL@...thus the terms "double skip" and/or Hyper-parablepsis.
      -Again, Matt 28:6 "EKEITO [O KUPIOC] KAI" can be explained in a similar light. O->O K->KAI i.e. haplography to homoeoarcton, thus explaining an omission which the late Dr. Metzger saw "no reason why it should have been deleted".-But I digress.

      Now these examples are all fine and well but they don't address the exact type of scribal error which we have to do with. So, without further delay let's bring out the dragons... First, we must return to similar environments if we are to see similar game. Back I say, to the same haven's and the same lair. So off we go to the other notable genealogical table within the NT, that of St. Luke.

      Luke 3:23-24 "What the HLEVEI" Codex Aleph reads thus;
      TOY HLEI
      TOY MA@@A@
      ...but Cod.B in a singular act reads slightly different;
      TOY HLEI
      TOY MA@@A@

      Now how are we to suppose this misspelling of Levi's name came to be?

      Luke 3:26 "IOYDA" or "IWDA"?
      TOY IWCHX (or IWCHQ)

      And yet, Aleph B L gamma 0124 f13 33 69 and some other witnesses read;
      TOY IWDA

      I will refrain from boring the reader as to where I suppose the transferred Omega has come from.

      Luke 3:34 "Isaak to Iasaak"

      "tou iouda tou iakwB tou isaak" has become...
      "tou iouda tou iakwB tou iasaak" in ms.1. -But how so, if not by the very same rare form of scribal error we are seeking?

      And now to the very hold of Grendel.
      Matt 1:(3)4 in a very few mss.;f1(1 118) 788 1071 we find what we have set out for.

      tov Apam Apam ∆E...
      tov Amina∆am Amina∆am --Instead of the nearly universal reading;

      tov Apam Apam ∆E...
      ton Amina∆aB Amina∆aB

      One quick glance at Mss.1 & 118 will make it very clear how this unheard-of spelling came to be. -And yet ms.33 and Cod. Aleph both read "Amina∆aB Amina∆am" in a very similiar and telling manner.

      Matt 1:6 Cod.L reads THC TOY PIOY instead of THC TOY OYPIOY, occasioned no doubt by confusion with TOY and OYPIOY.

      Matt 1:7 Cod.Aleph in a singular act reads;
      ..TONACAQACAQ ...and once again we have transposition of a letter from one proper name (located below) onto another located above.

      Matt 1:15(16) ms.33 displays the singular reading;

      tov Mat@av Mat@ao° °{o=sigma,no final sigma in 33}
      tov avdpa Mariao

      Once again, a casual observation of ms.33 will yield the same implications.

      Please forgive me for not giving complete commentary in most cases. At this point I would rather let the evidence speak for itself and let each man come to his own conclusions. -MMR

    9. Matthew M. Rose8/27/2019 11:06 pm

      Hello, I was wondering why the moderator(s) disallowed an earlier post today?

    10. I have no idea about allowing or disallowing comments. I think I have the ability to turn off comments for a whole post if I write one, but going into an existing post and removing comments is above my access on this site. There was a post a while back about people having issues with different browsers. Could that be the problem?

    11. MMR, before we go on though, may I ask: Do you think Asaph constitutes a factual error and as such cannot be the original text here?

    12. Let me counter with the example I cited earlier:

      Do you think the "Isaiah" reading in Mt 13.35 and supported by many of the *same* witnesses as in Mt 1.7-8 constitutes a factual error and cannot be the original text there?

      It would seem to me that, by definition, scribal blunders produce error, whether of grammar, syntax, history, fact, or "original text"--and this *without* being a result of anyone holding to a doctrine of biblical inerrancy.

    13. Matthew M. Rose8/28/2019 4:53 pm

      That's not the way I'm looking at it. I suppose the best way to answer this is by referring to Luke 2:22. I do not follow the ultra minority reading found in ms.67 and later in the KJV. So in short, I don't bend logic, textual principles and/or methodology because such and such reading is easier to swallow theologically, historically or geographically. These things are important no doubt, but I believe they are secondary. Primarily because they would have a tendency to produce presuppositions and confirmation bias, which are obviously contrary to fair evaluation and judgment.

    14. Maurice, just to be clear, my intent was to ask Matthew Rose, not you. I think you clarified in another comment somewhere. On Matt. 13:35, "Isaiah" doesn't have the versional support that we see at Matt. 1:7–8, but there is also the influence of the phrase "Isaiah the Prophet" occurring multiple times already in Matthew's Gospel for an OT quotation. I would see Matt. 13:35 as a harmonisation to usage.

      Matthew Rose, Thanks for clearing that up. I just wanted to ask in light of your vigorous opposition. At best, if we grant what you're saying, you will have shown that it is possible for a name in Matt. 1 to change to another name based on nearby letters. Still, this works both ways—αβια αβια immediately before could provide a formula for α[]α α[]α. Since iotas take up less width than other letters, αβια is not all that dissimilar in length than ασα, which might even make a better parallel than ιωσαφατ (I tried to go measure a few examples just now except the INTF's VMR seems to be down at the moment; at least, it's not leading for me).

      At the end of the day, the observation (that we know some copyists did make) that the person's name is spelled Ἀσά in 1 Kings would have been a much more powerful influence on the text to change from Ἀσάφ than an a format-based leap that also could have resulted in Ἀσά. Additionally, there is the tendency to omit prevalent in early manuscripts. Even without intentionality, the final φ could be left off even by accident.

    15. Matthew M. Rose8/28/2019 7:03 pm

      E.Hixson, the core issue here is the way we are evaluating and weighing the external evidence. This is because we are following (and rather purely I may add) two different and opposing systems of theory and methodology. You friend, are what I would term Neo-Hortian (no disrespect is meant by this and please feel free to correct &/or modify my observation here). I, on the other hand, am a strict disciple of the school of Burgon and Scrivener. It's obvious that our initial leanings concerning which reading is authentic (which is obviously caused by how we weigh external evidence respectively) is setting us up to butt-heads if you will. Honestly, the external evidences should of been hashed out before such a robust discussion of the internal considerations. Considering the internal evidence has been thoroughly sifted, I think a step back and a further evaluation of the mss.,versions and Father's would do the most good. Other than that and as far as the internal probabilities are concern, if the many singular, sub-singular and rarely attested examples of this type of scribal error given above in yesterdays "Beowulf"(8/27) post do not convince you of the possibility<>probability of such a scribal glitch, I don't see how anything would. -And I apologize if my opposition has seemed too vigorous at times because I hold no ill will towards you in any way. -MMR

    16. Matthew, Thanks for this. As you said, "Honestly, the external evidences should of been hashed out before such a robust discussion of the internal considerations." Clearly in the except from the textual commentary that I posted, I wrote that external evidence determines the text here. It's in the very first sentence. The manuscript evidence is the primary basis for the text, full stop. When you brought up external evidence you mentioned Syriac, but the Syriac expert said he wouldn't use the Syriac versions here. The Vulgate has Asa (though some manuscripts have Asaph), but more Old Latin witnesses have Asaph than Asa. On external grounds, I am happy to go with Asaph for the text, even when considering the versions. Fathers can be difficult at times, because we often have some of the same issues with transmission in manuscripts of the fathers as we have in manuscripts of the New Testament (for example, if we only have a 14th-century copy of some particular 4th-century Christian writer, do we have an actual citation from the 4th-century, or do we have a citation from the 14th-century? The only thing we can 'prove' is that we have a citation from the 14th-century with the possibility of something earlier)—this is why we need good editions with good apparatuses of the fathers and cannot always rely on what Burgon had for an accurate picture of the precise form of the text in the writings of various fathers.

    17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    18. My last attempted post didn’t go through or get approved, for whatever reason; so I try again in more detail:

      To prevent misunderstanding, MMR's statement properly should be rendered as “The interpretation of the external evidences should have been hashed out before” internal considerations were discussed or applied.

      While Elijah correctly stated that “external evidence determines the text here . . . . The manuscript evidence is the primary basis for the text”, the approaches being discussed each depend on a different interpretation and evaluation of the weight and significance of the external data.

      Obviously, my (and MMR’s) view of the external data differs from that of Elijah, Dirk, and various critical text editors. As a result, we necessarily favor an alternate reading and evaluate and apply the internal criteria quite differently. As a result, I can agree with Elijah that “external evidence determines the text here” and that “the manuscript evidence is the primary basis for the text” — but obviously we interpret and evaluate the manuscript evidence quite differently.

    19. E.Hixson, concerning the Syriac...In the Hebrew OT we have Asa, not Asaph. The Syriac (peshitta) also reads Asa in the OT, so there's no confusion here. Yet, in one place (I Chron.9:16) "Some Cod. w/ two early printed ed.(one marg.), and Syr., read "Asaph" -Bullinger. The reading "Asaph" in some witnesses is an obvious mistake, caused very likely by the same type of scribal error as I have previously explained above. Thus it appears that the Syriac is quite cognizant in this matter. For it follows the Hebrew in rendering Asa as Asa throughout the OT, but in one instance it reads Asaph (IChron.9:16), following a few mss. which suffer from corruption in this one location. That is walking a tight rope to put it one way. Although I respect Dr. Williams's caution and careful approach concerning his trust or distrust in the Syriac in regards to this, I would also respect equal caution and care when trying to disqualify it wholesale from the Critical Apparatus. Maybe the good Dr. Williams could touch on this a bit with his expertise?

      Now, if it's the fact that the Cureton Syr. and Lewis codex are in unison with the peshitta, harkl. & pal., (as well as the Greek Byzantine Text) and set against their normal allies Aleph/B.-And suspicions are raised in lieu of this awkward union, then I would hope that this would be expounded on (I'm thinking aloud here).

    20. Matthew M. Rose8/30/2019 10:27 am

      Asaph= P1(vid) Aleph B C f1(1,1582*) f13(788+?) 205 700 1071 L253, L844 L2211 vulg.mss. it.aur.c.g1.k.q. arm. eth. geo. Epiph.1/2 Ambrose

      Asa= E K L M W Delta Pi Sigma 2c 28 33 118(f1) 124 180 565 579 597 828 892 1006 1009 1010 1079 1195 1216 1230 1241 1242 1243 1292 1342 1365 1582c(f1) Byz. Lect. it.(a) f.ff1 vulg. slav. Epiph.1/2 Augustine Ps-Eustathius

      Now, the Asaph reading has more early evidence; P1vid Aleph B C it.e.k. copt. etc. but completely disappears from the greek tradition save for a handful of mss.

      The Asa reading also has early evidence; W Sigma it.(a)ff1 Vulg. Ps-Eust. Aug. and only increases in strength as the centuries pass by.

      Now, the weight of the Asaph reading is stronger up to the 6th cent. in both number and geographic diversity. Yet the Asa reading is still very visible, very diverse and also has a considerable footprint on these early centuries. As we continue into the later centuries we see the Asaph reading vanish in the greek and only stay afloat in the "locked-in" versional suport. Meanwhile the Asa reading flourishes within the Greek Text (Paired with the Vulgate of Jerome).

      The Asa reading therefore has a much more consistent continuity and in the end amounts itself into an enormous advantage numerically. The question now arises; Can this type of traditional possession be overturned by B/Aleph P1vid C "a few others" the italic and a few lesser versions?

      Keep in mind that this is the same reading which caused the late Dr.Metzger to so flippantly grasp at an almost childish explanation. Well aware of the implications of Dr. Metzger's stance, Mr. Hixson has pivoted and produced a new theory. Yet this theory (hypocorism) in regards to Asa-Asaph is nowhere proved. Of whom the burden of truth is on here, is quite obvious.

      As for internal evidence my final stance would be simply this. I believe that the views of Dr. Robinson and myself are complimentary. Asaph is somewhat more familiar than Asa, most would agree. This would only increase the chance of scribal error. If a copyist/scribe already has Asap on the brain (relatively speaking). What harm could be done by having ample opportunity for it to also be before his eyes. Meaning, it is a stronger case to have Asaph not only in the peripheral of the mind, but also in the peripheral of the eyes.


      The simple fact that P1, 1, 1071, 1582,i.e. nearly half of all the witnesses for Asaph line up this way generally.-And that B and Aleph also exibit an error conducive structure (although to a lesser degree). Would lead me to not trust these mss.. Not to mention the fact that Aleph in a singular act commits this same type of error in the very same verse (Matt.1:7), by transposing a sigma to the end of ABIA-via the Asaph below, thus making ABIAC.


      -And cod.B in Luke 3:23 makes a similar singular error when it transposed an "H" to the beginning of Levi, making Hlevei.

      TOY H/\EI
      TOY MAθθAθ
      TOY H/\EVEI
      TOY ME/\XEI

      -And again ms.1 (yet another witness which furnishes the critical apparatus for the Asaph reading) commits the singular error of transposing an alpha from iakwB to isaak making iasaak in Lk.3:34.

      tou iouda tou iakwB tou iasaak

      -And again cod.Aleph and B along with 700 788 (all witnesses for Asaph in Mt.1:7-8) apparently commit this very type of scribal error when they read Iwda for Iouda.

      TOY IWDA

      -And finally in Matt.1(3),4 we have ms.1 788 & 1071 all witnesses for "Asaph" along with ms.118 collude in a sub-singular example of this very same scribal mishap. Although it is the name of Amminadab which is victimized this instance.


      Transposing once again a letter "μ" from one line to the next, from Apaμ to AμivadaB.
      Codex Sinaticus exhibiting;


      In this place, to it's own discredit and to a discount in the strength of its testimony in Matt.1:7-8. To put it mildly, I would not trust witnesses like these. -MMR

    21. Matthew M. Rose8/30/2019 4:52 pm

      I'm having the same issues as Dr. Robinson. Another post has failed to reach the comment section. Hopefully a moderator can fix this.

  22. What an interesting thread this turned out to be.

    Of the top of my head, I don't find the hypothesis of the OP to be very compelling at all. It seems overly-complicated to me, or as MAR said, clutching at straws. Further, I'm not convinced the historical Matthew would have had all that exceptional an understanding of Hebrew, and even if his Hebrew was better than subsequent scribes, I doubt it was better than the author of 1 Kings.

    If I had to choose from the alternate theories so far, I think my third choice would be the parablepsis theory offered by MMR. It too is a bit too complicated, but considering the types of mistakes copyests made, it seems it might have the ring of truth, and I'd like to see the argument worked up more fully.

    Coming in second place, in my mind, would be the Metzger/MAR hypothesis that it is simply a later scribes blunder of some other sort. As I've written before, I think these types of mistakes were far easier and unexplainable than many modern critics allow, and so for me the bottom line may just be that something went wrong somewhere.

    Further to that, I'm echo the other poster that I think that hypothesis should be compatible with most doctrines of inerrancy, as in my experience all but the strictest versions of that doctrine confine the inerrancy to matters of faith, not extraneous details (you could almost compare it to the pope's infallibility being confined to proclamations made ex cathedra, rather than every random utterance - or these days, emails and tweets - he happens to make).

    But to me the likeliest theory at the moment is that the blunder was simply Matthew's. Either he made a legitimate historical mistake, or more likely to my mind, he was operating within acceptable norms of variation, either way I think he likely wrote the text that subsequent scribes tried to correct, and it's as simple as that.

    Finally, I'd echo MAR's concerns about doctrine's of inerrancy driving text critical decisions. As I've often said, I think it's impossible for any of our academic regions to be influenced by (and therefore reflect) our own theology, so I'm not advocating a return to the myth of objectivity, but there's something not right about how, in my reading, the OP appears to be using Spurgeon to say that we should accept an apparently contradictory conclusion out of a faith in inerrancy; a faith that an apparently contradictory text actually has an internal consistency which we simply cannot see. To me, that would seem like a violation of the command to love God with all your mind, and I'd be interested in hearing from Elijah whether that's what he really meant.

    1. This autocorrect feature is so annoying presumptuous!

      That line should have read

      "I think it's impossible for any of our academic DECISIONS NOT to be influenced by (and therefore reflect) our own theology,"

    2. Ryan,

      Thank you so much for your comments.

      I quoted Spurgeon simply because I like Spurgeon, was reading Spurgeon, and that comment of Spurgeon's is what sent my thoughts in this direction. I could have easily quoted Augustine though for saying ultimately the same idea that I was trying to get at. In Ep. 82 (to Jerome, written probably around 405 CE), Augustine wrote that he has “respect and honour only to the canonical books of Scripture: of these alone do I most firmly believe that the authors were completely free from error.” Immediately next, Augustine continued: “And if in these writings I am perplexed by anything that appears to me opposed to truth, I do not hesitate to suppose that either the MS. is faulty, or the translator has not caught the meaning of what was said, or I myself have failed to understand it”(Ep. 82.1.3).

      Admittedly, Augustine goes back to faulty manuscripts as one possibility, and I'm saying that we should be going for the text first before using inerrancy as a text-critical decision maker, but the final reason he gives is where I would want to land—maybe it looks wrong because I don't understand it.

      I don't think it violates the command to love God with all your mind, but rather just an admission that sometimes God doesn't give us all the answers to all the questions. When I was in seminary, a student asked the professor in one of my classes one of those big philosophical questions like the problem of evil or predestination/free will. I don't remember the question, but I do remember the answer: "Sometimes God puts his cookies on a higher shelf than we do."

    3. Ryan,
      You must only be reading non-Evangelical inerrancy statements to compare inerrancy to the Pope’s infallibility doctrine. Read the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy and compare that to Papal infallibility, not nearly the same.


    4. Ryan, if by "blunder" you mean a text that does not reflect the author's intention, does that mean that textual critics who practice conjectural emendation should emend the transmitted text to match?

  23. I seem to have missed the explanation of why a person with a knowledge of Hebrew would think that אסף is a hypocorism of אסא. Could you please explain it again?

    1. Dave, see Gesenius, as cited, but the hypocorism relationship goes in the opposite direction of what you describe. We could ask the question "why would a person with a knowledge of English think that Dave is a hypocorism of David?" Languages have patterns, and speakers know these patterns.

  24. Anthony Pope9/19/2019 4:18 pm

    EH: "Gesenius, as cited"
    "Gesenius, as cited," means, of course, the 18th edition of the Gesenius lexicon. The entry for אָסָה starts with "(Hypok. < אסף + GN [IP Nr. 193]; n. anderen Wz. אסה, [Thes. 129] ..." This information does not derive from Gesenius himself, since the 17th edition (ed. F. Buhl, 1915) does not contain it. The abbreviation IP refers to Martin Noth's Die israelitische Pronomennamen (1928), while Gesenius' own opinion is apparently given in his Thesaurus (abbreviated Thes. in the lexicon entry).
    In the Dictionary of Classical Hebrew revised, ed. Clines, Vol. 1 (2018) a more cautious opinion is given: "appar. a short form of an unattested theophoric name with אסה heal or perh. short form of אֲבִיאָסָף Abiasaph".
    I even wonder whether it was actually Noth's opinion that אָסָה derived from אָסָף plus a divine name, as a quick look in the index of his book for number 193 led me to אסף but with no mention of אסא . But perhaps a proper hebraist can put me right on that.
    In any case, it seems it would be prudent and more transparent for the editors of the Textual Commentary to indicate that there is more than one scholarly opinion as to the origin of the name אָסָה , rather than promoting one as "a legitimate interpretation" without giving more information.

  25. This is one of the most interesting discussions I have ever encountered. Truly!

  26. Anthony Pope's observation should have an impact; just citing Gesenius doesn't cut it; that's a runaround; one might as well say, "Someone somewhere has already proposed this hypocorism idea but we still do not have any clear evidence that the Hebrew king named Asa was also known as Asaph, nor do we have any explanation why Matthew, if he had a choice between "Asa" and "Asaph," would choose "Asaph."
    That's probably less persuasive, but more candid.

  27. The arguments that the Alexandrian readings of Amos and Asaph in Matthew 1 are evident copyist corruptions of Amon and Asa under the influence of the familiar names of the prophet Amos and the psalmist Asaph are very compelling.

    This Alexandrian text stream in Matthew 1:5 also presents us with the reading Iwbed rather than Obed, as found in other manuscripts. The corruption of proper names that begin with an omega or omicron by the preceding addition of an iota can be found in many Greek manuscripts of the OT, e.g. Exodus 6:15 where Hebrew Ohad is Oad in the Gottingen LXX but corrupted to iwad in B 56’-129 120’ 799. In Genesis 10:29 Hebrew Ophir becomes iouphir in LXX 74 and ioupheir in 370. In Genesis 36:23 Hebrew Onam is iwnan in LXX 44. So the corruption from Obed to Iwbed is not unexpected in Greek.

    Text critics in the 19th century chose the readings Iwbed, Asaph and Amws on the basis of lectio difficilior because of suppositions they had concerning Alexandrian manuscripts.

    I think most here would agree that the results of text critical studies since then have been providing good reasons to reevaluate conclusions made over a century ago.

    1. Also, would it not be logical that, in the title of the book at the beginning of this chapter, the spelling μαθθαιον is a corruption of ματθαιον, which in turn came from the Hebrew מתּתיהו? Why would it happen the other way around? The manuscripts Aleph, B, and D, with μαθθαιον, are old, but they were not the oldest, and there was evidently time for many corruptions to come in, some of which were not removed by the NU editors.

  28. In an Alexandrian text stream for the genealogy in Matthew 1 we also have the curious reading of Boes (p1 Aleph B lat(k) Sahidic and Bohairic Coptic) rather than Booz or Boos for Hebrew Boaz.

    In Sahidic Mss of Ruth 4:21 we also read Boes, only in Sahidic Mss. These Mss also read Iobed in v.17, 21 and 22, rather than LXX MT Obed.

    These readings suggest the possibility that a Sahidic copy of Ruth was consulted during the copying or editing of an early Greek manuscript of Matthew 1 in Alexandria.

  29. In an Alexandrian text stream for the genealogy in Matthew 1 we also have the curious reading of Boes (p1 Aleph B lat(k) Sahidic and Bohairic Coptic) rather than Booz or Boos for Hebrew Boaz.

    In Sahidic Mss of Ruth 4:21 we also read Boes, only in Sahidic Mss. These Mss also read Iobed in v.17, 21 and 22, rather than LXX MT Obed.

    These readings suggest the possibility that a Sahidic copy of Ruth was consulted during the copying or editing of an early Greek manuscript copy of Matthew 1 in Alexandria.