The origins of Lk 22:17-20
- Ive posted on this topic before, and have since been working on a new (as far as I know) theory as to how all the
different variants of this passage arose. Below are the conclusions of my research. I welcome any comments, and also if
anyone would like to see the complete document please let me know off list.
David Inglis, Lafayette, CA, 94549, USA
Perhaps the biggest barrier to understanding how all the variants of Lk 22:17-20 arose is to view the process as
essentially linear, either beginning with the shortest (the Old Latin), with successive interpolations leading to the
Majority Text, or beginning with the Majority Text, with successive omissions leading to the Old Latin.
One of the problems with both of these theories is that there is no attempt to suggest why, given the prior existence of
Mk 14:22-25 (and possibly Mt 26:26-29), either the shortest (the Old Latin) or the longest (Majority Text) variants
should have been the first to appear in Lk. In addition, such is the influence of the extant variants that it is hard
for most people to seriously consider the possibility that all of the known variants might have arisen from another,
non-extant, one. The impact of the Majority Text has meant that evidence that provides clues that such a variant did
exist, and also suggests what the content of that variant might have been, has, it seems, been consistently overlooked.
For example, Willker comments as follows:
That Marcion supports the longer text is a strong argument for its originality. Schürmann makes it probable that also
Justin and Tatian attest the longer form.
Herrick makes a similar point
The longer reading is attested by the following: 1) all the Greek manuscripts, including p75 (AD 175/225); 2) all the
versions with the exception of the Old Syriac and part of the itala and 3) by all early Christian writers beginning with
Marcion, Justin and Tatian.
Unfortunately, these comments relating to Marcion, Justin, and Tatian are based on a mis-interpretation of the evidence.
While it is true that Tertullian and the Diatessaron testify to the existence of variants of vv. 17-20 that contain text
not present in the Old Latin, there is no basis on which to say that these must therefore have contained all of the
Majority Text. Tertullians comments can only be taken to refer to vv. 19a, 17, 20b, 18 at most, while what we know of
the original text of the Diatessaron covers only vv. 19a, 17, 20b-c, 18 (the second half of v. 19b that follows v. 18 in
the Arabic and Latin translations being a later interpolation). Not only was v. 19b-20a not present in either of these
two variants, but their order does not match that of the Majority Text (vv. 17, 18, 19, 20). However, it is a close
match what we seen in Mk, the Lukan equivalent of which is vv. 19a, 17, 20b-c, 18, and this is therefore the most
probable basic form of the earliest variant of this passage.
Once we realize that the earliest variant of vv. 17-20 was not much more than an edited copy of the text we see today in
Mk 14:22-25 and Mt 26:26-29 (and therefore not containing any of what we know as vv. 19b-20a), then all the known
variants can be seen to have resulted from just three basic changes to this original text:
1. Modifying (or completely removing) the references to blood and Jesus atoning sacrifice;
2. Combining the initial Mk/Mt text with 1 Cor 11, and removing duplications;
3. Avoiding the cup-bread-cup sequence created when the Mk/Mt text was combined with 1 Cor 11.
In more detail:
1. The initial Greek variant of vv. 17-20 (as described above) was seen by Tertullian in Marcions gospel, and,
based on Tertullians lack of comment, was very similar to that in Tertullians Old Latin bible. It had the bread-cup
sequence (Tertullian does not mention the text of v. 20c (or its Mk/Mt equivalent), and so his copy of Lk may have
omitted this reference to Jesus blood being shed. This variant was also used by Tatian when creating the Diatessaron.
2. Old Latin mss b and e go further than Tertullian, omitting the whole of what was originally Mk 14:24/Mt 26:28,
thus removing all mention of Jesus blood.
3. Text from 1 Cor 11:23b-25b was merged with (or interpolated into) the initial Greek variant. To avoid problems
with the order of the text, what we now know as vv. 17-18 were placed before the rest of the text, thus creating the
Majority Text variant with its cup-bread-cup sequence.
4. Later old Latin mss (a, d, ff2, i, and l), and also D, swap the early versions (based on the Mk/Mt text) of v.
19a with v. 17-18, giving the cup-bread sequence, but not including any text from 1 Cor 11.
5. Sy-S and Sy-C have their origins in the initial Greek variant and include some text from 1 Cor 11, but avoid the
first cup without re-ordering any of initial text:
a. Sy-S surrounds v. 17 with shortened versions of 1 Cor 11:25a and 25b, with v. 18 following, and omits v. 20c
b. Sy-C has the same placing of vv. 17-18 as Sy-S, but omits 1 Cor 11:25 entirely, and also omits v. 20c.
6. Sy-P (Peshitta) is based on the Majority Text, but avoids the first cup by simply omitting vv. 17-18.
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