On Mon, 29 Jan 1996, Carlton Winbery wrote:
> I would like to comment on the textual problem at I
> Cor 12:3. I am persuaded that the original is KAUXHSWMAI supported by P46,
> aleph, A B and others. Some scribe (perhaps in a scriptorum) heard that
> word and wrote KAUQHSWMAI (Psi, and a many others). Another scribe saw
> that reading and changed it to KAUQHSOMAI (C D F G L the whole latin
> tradition and some others). The aorist deponent subjunctive with hINA
> makes good sense here, "in order that I might boast."
(Let me insert a small but significant addendum to the data above: the
reading KAUQHSWMAI of Psi "and many others" actually encompasses the
entire Byzantine/Majority tradition, and this fact should not be minimized
in the discussion which follows).
The problem I see with the above approach is that KAUQHSOMAI/KAUQHSWMAI is
clearly the "more difficult" reading. Paul uses the concept of "boasting"
almost to excess, particularly in the Corinthian correspondence. Nowhere
else does he speak of giving one's body to be burnt, and even the
particular locus of that reference in the immediate context is problematic.
By applying the principle of favoring the reading most likely to give rise
to the other(s), as well as acknowledging the reading which was most
difficult (to the scribe), either KAUQHSWMAI or KAUQHSOMAI would be
favored over the "easier" and "more familiar" Pauline verb KAUXHSWMAI.
Even were dictation utilized in a scriptorium (which from my own
examination of variants and their causes I consider to be the extremely
rare case when speaking of NT Greek MSS), an error of hearing between the
phonemes Chi and Theta would not be all that likely, since one is a
gutteral and the other a labial. Yet even if phonetic confusion occurred,
the tendency of a scribe then would be to favor what he in his own mind
and hearing THOUGHT was a more common reading over one which would be less
common, and especially a concept of giving one's body "to be burned," which
would be unique to Paul.
More problematic than either of these matters is the supposition that a
single scribe creating a more difficult reading by an error or hearing
would somehow produce a MS copy which then would become the mother of
virtually all subsequent MSS. This hypothesis assumes that no
contemporary or later scribe would ever notice the difference, let alone
simply correct such an error by cross-comparison with another pre-existing
A major problem with modern eclecticism (whether reasoned or rigorous) is
its failure to ignore the problems of the historical transmission of the
text throughout history; this is one such case where attention to the
historical possibilities of manuscript transmission weighs heavily in
determining a conclusion.
That an error producing a "more difficult" reading could so easily corrupt
the mass of the MS tradition bodes ill for the certain recovery of the
original text by any currently-recognized and responsible principles of NT
It is also significant that the Western tradition (D F G, as well as the
Old Latin, known to be 2nd century in origin) would have virtually
unanimously accepted such an "difficult" erroneous reading and perpetuated
it (though changing the apparent subjunctive to an indicative -- another
case of moving toward an "easier" reading, but this time grammatically).
Yet under such a hypothesis, there still remained MSS of that era (P46)
and even two or more centuries later (Aleph A B) which still maintained
the supposed "original" reading whereby the "difficult reading" error
could easily have been corrected.
Allowing the Byzantine "more difficult" reading of KAUQHSWMAI to be
original on the other hand, everything explains itself well. The tendency
of some scribes to gravitate to a more usual Pauline expression or
"boasting" may have played some part, but also the grammatical issue of
the peculiar subjunctive (?) form might on the one hand cause some scribes
to alter -SWMAI to -SOMAI, leaving the -Q- intact and other scribes to
seize the opportunity of presuming an error in their exemplar, and to
correct the text from a -Q- to a -X-, with a grammatically "normal"
KAUXHSWMAI (Middle Deponent Subjunctive) in its place -- again a
temptation to move to the "easier" reading, both in content and in
grammar. From this standpoint, it then is no surprise to find a SMALL
minority of scribes reading either KAUXHSWMAI or KAUQHSOMAI as opposed to
the 98%+ Byzantine reading of KAUQHSWMAI, which is grammatically and
contextually "more difficult", and thus more liable to give rise to the
The problem comes down to this: WHY -- on what reasonable grounds --
should the vast majority of all MSS ever have perpetuated a reading which
they knew was grammatically questionable and contextually problematic,
assuming that a perfectly good alternative existed in variant readings
known and perpetuated in either the Latin or Alexandrian traditions.
It hardly seems likely that any alteration to the text of a MS which would
produce a grammatically questionable and "more difficult" reading would
ever be perpetuated in the vast majority of MSS. If this indeed be the
case, the reading in question seems far more likely to be a reflection
of the autograph text than any alteration to such.
As an aside, I find it highly amusing that in the cross references to the
Nestle 27 text at 1Cor.13:3, they note Daniel 3:19ff, which does NOT
reflect their chosen text at all, but the majority KAUQHSWMAI reading *:-)