Monday, July 26, 2021

Romans 8.34 A question of accentuation?


In the NA28 text Romans 8.34 begins with  τίς ὁ κατακρινῶν; 

This is a little bit exciting not only from an exegetical viewpoint; but also because future participles don't come along every day (there are around a dozen in the Greek NT).

If we look in the apparatus it would appear that not a single manuscript can be cited in support of this accentuation (of the future participle κατακρινῶν). The early manuscripts lack accentuation (generally): P46 01 A B* C D* F G 0289 [good luck if you want to check the vid on the basis of the images in NTVMR]; and the only other option given in the apparatus is  τίς ὁ κατακρίνων; (rendering this as a present participle). It is presumably on the basis of the predominance of the manuscripts that the THEGNT opts for this reading (cf. also Tisch. 1869/72). Here is a picture from Vaticanus


The exegetical discussions seem to hinge on whether Paul's series of questions are all future.

8.33: τίς ἐγκαλέσει κατὰ ἐκλεκτῶν θεοῦ; ...

8.34: τίς ὁ κατακρινῶν; ...

8.35:  τίς ἡμᾶς χωρίσει ἀπὸ τῆς ἀγάπης τοῦ Χριστοῦ; ...

    So, very briefly, Cranfield: 'the future is required by the parallel ἐγκαλέσει'. 


Or whether you think the immediately preceding present participle is the most significant: 

8.33b-34a: θεὸς ὁ δικαιῶν· τίς ὁ κατακρίνων; 

    So Sanday & Headlam: 'δικαιῶν suggests the present'. I'm tempted to think that the verse numbering has distracted us from the close relationship here.

Does anybody have some wisdom on this? Should I think of the NA28 reading as essentially a conjectural reading? Should I think, on the basis that there is no essential morphological distinction between the two forms, that it doesn't really matter.


  1. Based on 03 scribal habits explained in Peter Williams, “Semitic Long /i/ Vowels in the Greek of Codex Vaticanus of the New Testament”, you might conclude that the lengthening indicated by “ει” corresponds to its accent and thus supporting the THGNT reading. But that is only for 03. Other than that, it looks like an editor’s choice for the reasons you explained.

  2. It looks like the accent on this word is being collated for the ECM of Paul, so that should provide some clarity within the next decade or so.

  3. It is actually discussed very briefly in the Amsterdam Database, as an editorial alternative:

    1. Thanks Jan, I thought it would probably be there, but something went wrong with my search last week.
      Is it possible to search the database for all the entries with the Operation lable "Diacritics"? That would presumably collect other similar issues.

    2. I noticed that the database indicates that this conjecture is attested, and then when I checked the introduction to the database, I noticed that it says there, "in the case of editorial alternatives, A [i.e. attested] is marked by default."

      Why are editorial alternatives marked as "attested" by default?

      In a case like Rom 8:34, I would normally interpret "attested" to mean that there are known examples of manuscripts that have the accentuation κατακρινῶν.

      If the reasoning is that the earliest manuscripts lacked diacritics, and so could be counted as attestation for any variation of diacritics, then it would seem to me that that reasoning would disallow counting them as conjectures at all. Or is there some other reason?

    3. The latter is how we reasoned: since the oldest manuscripts lack diacritics (etc.), any choice is actually attested. The later manuscripts reflect a form of scribal or editorial disambiguation (and scribal copying of such choices). We do not record these cases as conjectures, but as editorial alternatives. Just for convenience, they have a cjID. We decided to include them because many cases were recorded in Nestle editions, often anonymously, and we thought it worthwhile to explore (and help others to explore) the scholarly history.

    4. At this time one cannot search such cases. In a future update I want to include the possibility (as well as our complete bibliography). For now I could post or send you a list of entries with this operation label.

    5. A list of entries at this time would be helpful, definitely.

    6. There's a slow but manageable way to perform a search for all entries labeled as diacritics.

      When searching for scripture citations, you can search for a passage up to the length of a full book of the NT. So 27 search done that way will give you the whole database. And you can sort the Operation column for each of those results and just scroll down that alphabetically sorted column until you get to the diacritics section.

    7. Thanks Eric,
      When I want to do this in the future, I hope I'll remember this!

  4. As Alan Bunning points out the spelling in Vaticanus of κατακρεινων has to be present, because Vaticanus consistently uses ει for a long vowel and the future has a short vowel.