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5473Re: [textualcriticism] Matt 1:6 (+/- O BASILEUS)

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  • Daniel Buck
    Jan 6, 2010
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      Jonathan Borland wrote:

      <<NA27 lists the following support for omitting O BASILEUS in Matt 1:6: p1 Aleph B Gamma f1.13 579. 700 pc g1 k vgmss sys.c.p co. [arm]

      Metzger unfortunately does not comment on this variation. The words are not without early external support (C W Latin), and internal 
      factors, as many notable commentators have observed, weigh heavily in favor of retaining the words>>
      There are several factors to consider when looking at this variant in its context.
      1) The variety of the manuscript evidence.
      There are a lot more variants in this verse than just this one. David, for example, is spelled a variety of ways, with or without NS. Solomon likewise, although NS are not used. And finally, Uriah is spelled and/or corrected variously. And that all just in the oldest three manuscripts!
      2) The character of the manuscript evidence.
      The reason for the variety of readings--and of corrections--appears to have been intentional or unintentional changes to the text on the part of scribes. And this tendency goes back to the earliest available evidence. p1vid, for example, through the deletion of an article, has David begetting Solomon by Uriah! 03 was orginally written with EGENNHSEN in both places, which was subsequently corrected by the deletion of the final N's. So from the beginning of the evidence before us, changes were being made to the text which had nothing to do with any overall recension.
      3) The philosophical factors in play.
      One approach to the manuscript evidence is to assume a recension to the text that began around the turn of the fourth century and was mainly completed by the ninth century. Under this scheme, manuscripts were corrected toward a new standard, then copied as corrected. Many manuscripts were imperfectly, partially, or incompletely corrected, thus leading to a varied level of "Byzantine corruption" in any given manuscript from the 4th century on. A major aspect of this recension was the addition of superfluous, explanatory, or legendary material. This philosophy, then, will drive interpretation of all evidence to bring it into support of the underlying assumption. For example, the discovery of "Byzantine corruptions" in mss of the third century did nothing to shake the underlying assumption, but did require a tweaking of what was considered to be the original text.
      Another approach is to look at all the manuscript evidence, compile a list of the most likely scribal habits, and then look for places where a common scribal change is most likely to account for the evidence. Under this scheme, scribes are often found to have omitted material that was thought to be superfluous, explanatory, or legendary. Since scribes varied in their application of this practice, mss are found with varying levels of deletion, and cannot be expected to perfectly agree with each other on what is to be retained or not retained across the width of the corpus. Furthermore, attempts by later scribes to restore what had been deleted can be expected to be sporadic as well, with deleted materials often restored to a different location than the original.
      To conclude, there appear to be two opposing explanations for this variant, each of which will naturally find a home amongst those who find it most in keeping with their own philosophy.
      1) A highly influential scribe around the turn of the 4th century decided that it would look better to have David called The King in both mentions of him in v. 6. Since some mss have it in two places and virtually all the rest all have it in the first location, the original reading just had TON BASILEA. This new reading became wildly popular, to the extent that it took over the original reading in Jerome's Latin translation, displaced the original reading in the Armenian by the time it was translated into Georgian, and was one of the top priorities for the corrector of 33's exemplar toward a Byzantine standard. Eventually, O BASILEUS was being included in all new Greek and Latin mss.
      2) Omission being one of the most common scribal tendencies, material that can easily be skipped over by the eye, or done without by the brain, is most likely to be dropped in the copying process. O BASILEUS being one of the latter, it was left out by scribes who were in a hurry to get on to the next line. This tendency expressed itself several times, even to the point in some mss that both mentions of The King were deleted as superfluous. But wherever O BASILEUS was removed in the copying process, it would of course be absent from all descendants, unless an alert new user of the defective codex noticed something missing and attempted to bring it back into the manuscript stream. But because the defective manuscripts (at least in Greek and Latin) were so riddled with such shortcuts, they fell out of use and were no longer being copied by the time the vast majority of mss extant today made their appearance.
      Daniel Buck

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