Although my recent article in CBQ (74.1, 2012) was not exclusively on TC, I'm curious if 'syntax' would/should also help inform us of the quality of scribes? Does anyone know of sources dealing with this?
For example, the "aorist third-person negated imperative" construction was only used 8 times in the earliest/best NT MSS (all/only by Christ), with triple attestation in the synoptic gospels. This construction eventually disappeared from the common language altogether since at least six more conventional alternatives existed to express the imperative in Greek: future indicative, subjunctive, optative, infinitive, participle, and present indicative with infinitive.
As far as textual criticism goes, the only variants with this construction are either spelling (e.g., alpha vs. epsilon) or only a few manuscripts (e.g., ï¿½" K M U W TR f1 f13 2 28 579 1346) modernize this archaic construction to one of the six more conventional alternatives I just mentioned. I say archaic 'not' because the construction completely fell out of the Greek language, but it was almost already to that point in the 1st century (e.g., after 84 times in the LXX and even more in Plato, it was only used 7 times in the Pseudepigrapha, it's never used in Greek Qumran, never used in Josephus, only used 3 times in Philo (quoting the LXX?), 3 times in the Apostolic Fathers (quoting Christ?), and once in the Gos. of Thom. [quoting Christ?]).
My overall point/question for TC here is whether evidence like this can/does reveal much more about scribal habits (e.g., how in the world did this construction make it through all the copies of copies of copies for hundreds of years of bad scribes AND oral tradition?)?
Thanks for any help wrestling with this proposal (and possible future dissertation?).