Wednesday, September 15, 2021

GA 048 and the Text of Ephesians 5:22

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Some years ago, I wrote a blog post on the text of Ephesians 5:22. There I suggested that the neglected longer reading (ὑποτασσέσθωσαν) seemed to me to be the more difficult reading while noting a simple transcriptional explanation for the shorter reading.

Since then, I have fleshed out my argument in much more detail and the result is a new article in NTS. (For those without access, here’s the pre-pub version.) If my textual argument is sound, the upshot is a resolution to the longstanding debate about where Paul starts his instructions to the household. Beginning with the RSV, English translations started to reflect the uncertainty by putting paragraph breaks before 5.21 or before both 5.21 and 5.22 (NEB, NIV1984, NRSV, NCV, etc.) while some still put one only before 5.22 (NKJV, NASB, ESV, NET). Commentators, of course, also disagree and the issue has become a lighting rod for debates about Paul and gender.

As part of my work on this variant, I revisited the text of 048 (Vat. Gr. 2061). 048 is a palimpsest with a fifth-century undertext from Acts and Paul. Given its early date, it’s quite important and is consistently cited in NA28. However, it is not cited at Eph 5.22. My guess is that this is because the last major collation of 048, done by Dale Heath in 1965 from photographic plates, says the text is illegible at this point. Well, I gave it a crack using the images at the VMR and some Photoshop adjustments and I’m pretty sure that this fifth-century witness has ὑποτασσέσθωσαν. Not surprisingly, it also has a new paragraph at 5.22 too. 

You can see my attempt to reconstruct the text and judge how I did. Red letters are ones I’m pretty confident about and blue are ones where I really can’t be sure about.



Because I didn’t have color images or MSI, I included 048 with “vid” in my article. So, here is my formal appeal for the Vatican to digitize this early manuscript using MSI and for someone to write a fresh dissertation on it. Even without new photos, I think there’s quite a bit more text to be deciphered than what Heath was able to if someone is willing to work at it.

Update

Christian spotted that the Vatican now has color photos that weren’t there when I worked on this last. They seem to use UV light. Posted below is a close shot of the color image with some heightened contrast. I only had a little time to spare today. Anon also alerted me to the IGNTP transcriptions that I didn’t know about. They disagree with my reconstruction so be sure to check that out too.

fol. 300r


21 comments

  1. In the absence of newer images, would someone with the right skills and software be able to find more of the underlying text using just these old photographic plates than what is visible to the naked eye when just viewing them as shown?

    I seem to recall having seen things like that done before by adjusting colors and contrasts and such. But I'm not sure.

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    1. In my (very limited) experience, that can be done with color images, but not effectively with black and white. Those techniques rely on the slightly different tones of the ink to sort out the various levels of text, but facsimilies transform all of those tones to varying degrees of grey.

      That said, if anyone has had success with such techniques on black and white images, please let us know!

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    2. This might help https://hierax.ch/

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  2. Are these images of a different section?:
    https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Vat.gr.2061.pt.A
    This is indeed an excellent PhD suggestion!

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  3. To recap: In P46 and B there is no verb at Eph 5:22 and you agree, Peter, that it would be unsurprising that a verb would be added to fill the void. The verb appears in manuscripts in two forms and in two locations, suggesting that it was indeed added. You argue instead that the eyes of a copyist (or more likely more than one copyist) skipped from ...σιν to ...σαν, causing the verb to be omitted by P46 and B and all the Greek manuscripts known to Jerome, even though omissions in B are not common. While you think that Paul included the third person imperative verb, you think it is unlikely that it would have been interpolated later.

    Could you comment on the possibility that the third person verb, υποτασσεσθωσαν, was added by someone who imagined Paul addressing the women via the men, instead of addressing them directly with a second person verb? υποτασσεσθωσαν appears also at 1 Cor 14:34-35, where "Paul" says that the women should keep silent, without using second person vocabulary. Thus, those who thought that Paul would not address the women directly could have interpolated 1 Cor 14:34-35 and added the third person verb to Eph 5:22.

    You appeal to Eph 5:19 as an example of an omission common to P46 and B, but I am inclined to agree with Comfort that the shorter reading is probably the original.

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    1. Hi Richard, since P46 already omits in one of the 5 other places we have a -σιν/-σαν combo in the NT (1 Cor 8.12), I see no reason to think the same hasn’t happened here. As for B, I would not say omissions are uncommon since Paulson found 10% of its singulars in Matthew were omissions. Certainly there is no reason to think the scribe of B was somehow immune to this very easy-to-make mistake here. What can happen in P46 (and did happen at 1 Cor 8.12) can certainly happen here in B too. B is a good manuscript—not a perfect one.

      As a general rule, I also think that simple, accidental causes of variation are more likely than intentional ones. The more intention required for a small difference like this, the less likely it is the actual explanation. Why appeal to an intentional change when a simple accidental one does explains the data better?

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    2. Yes, normally accidental causes are more likely than intentional ones, simply because they are more common. However, this general rule does not apply in this case because we agree that it would be common for scribes to supply a verb to a sentence that lacked it. I do not think that the addition of the third person verb required a higher degree of intention than the addition of the second person verb. Both additions might just be filling the gap, which you accept is not unexpected. The third person verb would be added by those who, consciously or otherwise, assumed that Paul would not address the women directly.

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    3. Actually, the general rule does apply here and that is my exactly what I am arguing in the paper. Consciously adding a verb, especially a rare form of one, is not more likely than unconsciously omitting it due to similar endings with the preceding word.

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    4. Your paper says that it was common for variants to fill the void (such as to supply a missing verb), but now you seem to be saying it was uncommon. Please explain. Are you saying that it was common, but not AS common as the type of homoeoteleuton that you propose? Your second sentence does not represent the two rival theories fairly. I will rewrite it. You would need to show that "adding a verb, of the form that might well have come to mind, to a verbless sentence, is less likely than omitting it (twice?) due to little more than the same final letter as the preceding word". We need statistics on the frequency of homoeoteleuton of this type and the frequency of supplying verbs to verbless sentences. No such statistics are given in your paper.

      If early interpolators chose verbs to tell women to submit, what forms of the verb would they choose? Would they choose the second person imperative, having Paul address women directly, or would they choose the third person? 1 Cor 14:34-35 is such an interpolation so it helps us answer this question. It uses the exact same verb with the same form (the third person) that we find in Ephesians 5:22. It misses the point to say that it was "a rare form". You would need to show that it would be a surprising form for an early interpolation, and 1 Cor 14:34 would argue against you. Or, if you believe that Paul wrote 1 Cor 14:34-35, please answer Fee's challenge by providing an example of the transposition of at least a phrase-length section of text, that would parallel the transposition of these two verses.

      By the way, your paper says "More importantly, the vast majority of manuscripts in 1 Cor 14.34 actually read ὑποτάσσεσθαι", but these manuscripts are later than the period of interest when the verb was added to Eph 5:22.

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    5. Hi Richard, it's pretty obvious that nothing I say will satisfy you so I'm not going to keep engaging you here. Thanks.

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    6. Surely Colossians 3:18 would be reason enough for a scribe to choose the "direct address" imperative form.

      Regarding the verbs in 1Cor 14:34-35, it looks like all of the instructions in the preceding pericope (14:26-33) are given in the third person. Thus, even if the former passage were an interpolation, I don't think we could draw many conclusions about the scribe's gender stance from its verb forms. More likely the scribe would be simply matching the context (as, for example, the υποτασσεσθαι variant at 14:34, adjusting to the infinitive of the preceding λαλειν).

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    7. The degree to which 1 Cor 14:34-35 conforms to its context is debated, but you make a good point, Anonymous.

      I am not, of course, arguing that the second person verb was not added into Eph 5:22. Clearly it was, on either theory.

      Signor (note 105) writes, "Third person imperative variants are found for the second person imperative (Phil 2:5; 2 Tim 3:1), future indicative (Matt 20:26; Mark 10:43; Luke 7:7), present indicative (Rom 14:2; 1 Cor 14:38; Jas 2:13; 1 John 2:27), present participle (1 Cor 4:14; Phil 2:4), and aorist infinitive (1 Cor 7:10)."
      https://res.cloudinary.com/dy3wlzuye/image/upload/v1/KingstonChurch/third-person-imperative-greek-new-testament.pdf

      1 Cor 7:10, where women are urged not to separate from their husbands, is interesting because P46 changes the verb to the third person imperative. While this change may have been encouraged by nearby imperatives, it does provide an example of a very early corrupter choosing the third person imperative to impel women concerning their relationships to their husbands.

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  4. Interesting that the IGNTP's transcription for the ECM doesn't include the verb, but the resulting reconstruction leaves an abnormally short line instead (http://itseeweb.bham.ac.uk/epistulae/XML/transcriptions/greek/10/NT_GRC_048_Eph.xml#).

    That said, the entire phrase in question is in blue, "one[] where [you] really can’t be sure", aside from ω which could be part of τω or κω. Where you have υπο- in blue Myshrall and McCollum have ωϲ without any videtur, so perhaps that is the smoking gun.

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    1. It looks to me like where you have υπ*ο*-, beneath the Υ of ΥΡΑΝ, there is indeed a visible Ϲ, in support of the IGNTP reading. Thus a vid for the shorter reading, it seems to me, depending on one weighs the awkward resulting line length.

      Either way, perhaps the statement that the last major collation was done in 1965 should be emended. Though I'm sure some of the anti-CGBMers out there would agree wholeheartedly!

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    2. Anon, thanks for these comments. Indeed, I definitely missed the ECM’s transcription of this. Thanks for alerting me. I’m not sure I see what they see, do you? Where are they getting the ως after ανδρασιν? I couldn’t make the letters out there (hence my blue). What’s unlikely in their reconstruction is the two shorter-than-usual lines, one that is much shorter. Would we really expect a line that is four letters? Maybe they were unduly influenced by the NA text. Of course, I might be unduly influenced by my view too which is why we need better images (esp. MSI). My reconstruction at least fits the line lengths.

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    3. I *think* I can see the Ϲ of ΩϹ in the space between your blue ΥΠΟ_ΤΑ| (that is, in the gap between the ο and τ; it looks to me like it's overlapping the right half of your Ο). As for the ω, if you lower the white point of the image then remnants of its left said may be faintly visible, but I'm less sure of that than the -Ϲ (which, to be sure, is far from clear).

      Regarding the short line (τω κω) -- the line *after* that (beginning κω οτι ανηρ in your transcription) is entirely absent in both transcriptions, so it's possible that that line began with ekthesis as a new paragraph (i.e. at the beginning of v23; see the IGNTP transcription, they they don't propose the ekthesis). In that case, the shortened line would be entirely expected. It looks like the following pericope addressing the husbands is subdivided via ekthesis, and that several short "paragraphs" appear in the previous column (F300r:1; based on their transcription). Granted, this would be the shortest "paragraph", but given how much of the text is missing and scribes' general creativity with such things, I'm inclined to lean toward that as the better explanation. With a healthy vid, of course!

      Agree 100% on better images. And let me say that I very much appreciate your work here. Everything posted here is worth its weight in gold for those of us without professors, degrees, or university libraries!

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    4. Thanks, anon. I hadn’t thought about the possibility of that short line preceding a new paragraph. I don’t know any other MS that put one there but stranger things have happened! I’ve just realized that Christian spotted new images that weren’t available at the Vatican website when I worked through this before. So maybe another crack at it with these color images now will straighten me out. This is certainly good news.

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    5. This also raises an interesting point about the ECM. Perhaps someone has already observed this, but the fresh transcriptions being fed into the CBGM could have an unexpected effect on some variation units. Presumably, in the NA tradition, 048 wasn't considered when it came to this variation unit (as you suggested in the post) per its lack of citation. Now, of course, it will be factored in as having the shorter reading (though I suppose the editor has the ability to remove the witness from collation at this point -- surely they compare NAxx's apparatus at collation). It would be nice if, in addition to the changed-mainline-readings list, the editors supplied a "differently cited witnesses" list -- different from NAxx that is (xx being whatever is current).

      Hopefully such a list wouldn't have too many surprises! And depending on how the NA28 apparatus is encoded, it might not be too difficult to generate (for the INTF, that is).

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    6. Good news indeed!

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    7. Apologies for being a bit late to this discussion! If it helps clarify matters (at least for my part), I didn't have access to color images of GA 048 when I transcribed it for the IGNTP a few years ago. I ended up consulting Heath's dissertation to supplement that places where I couldn't make out the reading of GA 048 in the black-and-white images available to me at the time. I made the following remarks in an e-mail to Amy Myshrall: "Heath uses empty brackets to mark lacunose or illegible text, so most of the time I supplied the NA28 reading in the brackets in my transcription; occasionally, where the NA28 reading would not fit, I had to supply a different reading on my own judgment. I also opted to transcribe some uncertain letters differently in folio 300v, column 1, based on the space occupied by the surrounding illegible lines."

      While not immediately relevant to the variant at hand, I noted the following particulars of GA 048: "For what it contains, this manuscript has some interesting features. It is one of the only three-column manuscripts I've transcribed for Ephesians. It features the word order ουτως και οι ανδρες οφιλουσιν in Eph 5:28. It is one of the few manuscripts to lack the longer reading at the end of 5:30. It also features a lengthy harmonization to the scripture cited in 5:31; after κα[ι εσον]ται οι δυο ει[ς σαρκα μ]ιαν, it adds ωστε [ουκετι] εισιν δυο α[λλα σαρκα] μια."

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    8. Thanks, Joey. That’s very helpful info.

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