schoyen codex and synoptic criticism
- anyone's coptic or german skills up to evaluating
MS in Mesokemic (Middle Egyptian or Oxyrhynchite
dialect) on papyrus, Oxyrhynchus region, Egypt, 1st
half of 4th c., 39 ff. (- ca. 6 ff.), 23x20 cm, single
column, (18x14-16 cm), 25-28 lines in a fine regular
Context: MSS 2648, 2649, 2651 and 14 ff. of Isaiah (in
Mesokemic, ca. 300) were found tipped in among the
leaves of the present codex, which originally had ca.
Probably from the same hoard as the Chester Beatty
papyri, now in Dublin: Chester Beatty Library.
Provenance: 1. Monastery in the Oxyrhynchus region,
Egypt (4th c. - ca. 1930); 2. Antiquity dealer,
Alexandria (ca. 1930); 3. Private collector, Z�rich.
Commentary: The text opens at ch. 5:38 and goes more
or less continuously to the end.
The present codex is the earliest Matthew in any
Coptic dialect. The 11 chapters, 6-9, 13-17, 22 and
28, and a great number of verses elsewhere, are in
addition the earliest witnesses to these parts of the
Bible. The text is unique, not following any Coptic
nor Greek manuscripts known of Matthew.
Prof. Dr. Hans-Martin Schenke in his editio princeps
of the text, has named the manuscript Codex Sch�yen,
with the siglum Mae 2. (siglum Mae 1 being the Scheide
Codex of 5th c.) His conclusions are that the text is
not representing a free text transmission in relation
to all the other extant Greek and Coptic manuscripts
of Matthew, but that it is a correct translation of an
entirely different Gospel of Matthew. There is only
one other Gospel of Matthew known, the lost Hebrew
Gospel of the Jewish Christians mentioned by the
church fathers. This would have been the Hebrew
exemplar of the Greek translation the present
manuscript is based upon. Actually the famous
statement by Papias that the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew
was translated into Greek several times (Eusebius,
hist. eccl. III, 39, 16), now come in a new light. Due
to a series of textual differences between Codex
Sch�yen and the Canonical Gospel, it appears that both
Gospels derive from different versions of the Hebrew
Matthew. The consequence is that the relationship
among the Synoptic Gospels has to be entirely
re-evaluated, causing far-reaching and dramatic
consequences for New Testament research.
Published: Hans-Martin Schenke in the series
Manuscripts in The Sch�yen Collection, ed. Jens
Braarvig; Coptic Papyri, vol. I. Oslo 2001.
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