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Re: Wording in Matthew supplied by the writer himself

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  • E. Bruce Brooks
    Topic: Wording in Matthew From: Bruce In Response To: Brian Wilson BRIAN: Even if various strata have been philologically identified, the fact remains that
    Message 1 of 34 , Sep 9, 1998
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      Topic: Wording in Matthew
      From: Bruce
      In Response To: Brian Wilson

      BRIAN: Even if various "strata" have been philologically identified, the
      fact remains that each stratum could have been taken by the writer of the
      Gospel of Matthew from his source material, not one word having been
      supplied by the writer of the Gospel himself. Just from the text of the
      Gospel of Matthew, a philologist would have no means of ruling out the
      possibility that all the wording of the Gospel of Matthew has been taken by
      the writer of the Gospel from his documentary source material.

      The way out of this impasse, I would suggest, is to posit a documentary
      hypothesis of the relationship between the synoptic gospels and their
      sources, and then to argue, on the basis of that hypothesis, that
      particular wording was supplied by the writer of the Gospel of Matthew
      himself, and that other wording was taken from another synoptic gospel or
      documentary source [example omitted]. . . .

      The wording found to be supplied by the writer of the Gospel of Matthew
      himself depends on the synoptic hypothesis being used. Where no synoptic
      hypothesis is used, no wording supplied by the writer of the Gospel of
      Matthew is found.

      BRUCE: This must be the dozenth reiteration of this statement. I find it
      curious. It seems to say that authorship scenarios depend on prior choice
      of authorship hypothesis, and that philology offers nothing to the *choice*
      among available authorship hypotheses. The general form of this statement
      would seem to be that history as such is radically unknowable, and depends
      completely on an arbitrary projection from our own minds.

      I had thought rather better of philology than that, as offering something
      both to the Synoptic Problem and to the determination of the NT text on
      which the Synoptic Problem, and any discussion of it, ultimately rest. Let
      me put a question.

      Bruce Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, 3ed 1992, p234, gives the
      example of a problem in Acts 20:28, in the phrase "the church of . . . "
      where the following alternative possibilities are presented by extant

      (1) T*EOU (Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, etc)
      (2) KURIOU (P74, Alexandrinus, Ephraemi, etc)
      (3) KURIOU KAI T*EOU (Ephraemi 3, Hamburg, etc)
      (4) T*EOU KAI KURIOU (47)
      (5) KURIOU T*EOU (3, 95)
      (6) K*RISTOU (Syr codd, Apost, Const, etc)
      (7) IE#SOU K*RISTOU (m)

      Metzger proceeds to argue, not that we must adopt an arbitrary theory of
      manuscript priority before we can choose among these readings, but that,
      and I quote, "obviously only the first two merit attention, for (6) and (7)
      are insufficiently supported, and the rest are conflations of KURIOU and
      T*EOU in various combinations preserved in Byzantine texts."

      "On the basis of external evidence it is difficult to decide which of the
      first two readings is original. Paleographically, the difference concerns
      only a single letter: [kappa/umikron vs theta/umikron, each with a bar
      across the top of both letters]. Each is supported by early and diversified
      witnesses. Perhaps the most that can be said is that T*EOU is the
      Alexandrian reading and KURIOU is supported by typical Western documents.
      One must rely chiefly on considerations of internal probabilities in
      reaching a decision."

      [Proceeding to that consideration, he continues]: "The phrase EKKLE#SIA
      KURIOU occurs seven times in the Septuagint but nowhere else in the NT. On
      the other hand, EKKLE#SIA TOU T*EOU appears with moderate frequency (11s)
      in the Epistles traditionally ascribed to Paul and nowhere else in the NT.
      (The expression AI EKKLE#SIAI PASAI TOU K*RISTOU occurs once in Rom 16:16).
      It is possible, therefore, that a scribe, finding T*EOU in his exemplar,
      was influenced by OT usage and altered it to KURIOU. On the other hand, it
      is also possible that a scribe, influenced by Pauline usage, changed KURIOU
      of his exemplar to T*EOU."

      [So we seem to have reached the point of symmetry and reversibility; both
      available scenarios are scribally plausible. Nevertheless, Metzger does not
      rest in that situation, but continues thus]: "Two considerations which, in
      the opinion of the present writer, tip the scales in favor or the
      originality of the reading T*EOU are the following:"

      "(a) It is undeniable that T*EOU is the more difficult reading. The
      following clause refers to the church 'which he obtained DIA TOU AIMATOS
      TOU IDIOU.' If this is taken in its usual sense ('with his own blood'), the
      scribe might well raise the question, Does God have blood?, and thus be led
      to change T*EOU to KURIOU. On the other hand, if KURIOU were the original
      reading, there is nothing unusual in the context which would cause a scribe
      to introduce the more difficult T*EOU."

      "(b) The other consideration asks which reading is more likely to have been
      altered during the Arian controversy that raged over the Person of Christ.
      In this connection Alford's reasoning still seems to be cogent. He writes:
      [argument on the probability that the "stronger" reading would be more
      likely to be altered by heretical writers/copyists than the weaker KURIOU].
      . .

      Follows half a page more of discussion, ending in the suggestion that the
      phrase last considered might be construed as "the blood of his Own." A
      final footnote lists editors and editions which support the two choices,
      T*EOU having 11 including WH, and KURIOU having 6 including RSV.

      [Note that Metzger nowhere relies on the idea that Sinaiticus / Vaticanus
      are inherently preferable manuscript authorities to Alexandrinus / Bezae
      etc. The argument is solely local - from the words and their probabilities,
      including scribal handling probabilities].

      What do we conclude from this? That philology is useless in such cases? Or
      that it is capable of producing a reasonable argument which in turn
      convinces a considerable majority (11 of 17; 65%) of careful scholars who
      have been over the ground? Do we let these deliberations weigh with us, by
      using an NT text which has been determined by their results? Or is the
      textus receptus just as good, if we happen to feel that it is just as good?


      E Bruce Brooks / University of Massachusetts
    • Stephen C. Carlson
      ... This would not be a good idea, because all (existing) versions of this document are still under copyright. Those who are so inclined can visit Jim
      Message 34 of 34 , Sep 12, 1998
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        At 10:37 PM 9/11/98 -0700, Jeffrey B. Gibson wrote:
        >I'm sure the list would be grateful to have this "candidate document" (a
        >document which you frequently refer to, but don't ever name here or ever
        >produce any exemplar of in your posts) *sent here to the list*, along
        >with some explanation of how you know that this "candidate" is genuine.

        This would not be a good idea, because all (existing) versions of
        this document are still under copyright. Those who are so inclined
        can visit Jim Deardorff's web site themselves to see some quotations
        of the document and come to their own conclusions.

        Stephen Carlson
        Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@...
        Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
        "Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words." Shujing 2.35
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