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Did B really drop eremos due to harmonization?

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  • feeite_christian
    How do we explain that B L ff2 Syrus Sinaiticus and some miscellaneous Coptic mss do not have ermos (desolate) in the famously climactic pronouncement Your
    Message 1 of 33 , Dec 1, 2005
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      How do we explain that B L ff2 Syrus Sinaiticus and some miscellaneous
      Coptic mss do not have ermos (desolate) in the famously climactic
      pronouncement "Your house is left to you desolate" (Matt 23:38)? In
      contrast, the rest of the ms tradition (Alexandrian, Western,
      Caesarean, Byz) includes eremos.

      Metzger and others claim that B dropped it intentionally as being
      superflous. Less carefully, others have pointed out Luke's omission
      of eremos (13:35), and have suggested that the text behind B was
      harmonized to the shorter reading of Luke or to Jer 12:7 LXX.

      These explanations are unsatisfying. Of all the mss, B is best known
      for not harmonizing and for reflecting a relatively pure text (i.e.,
      less subject to the vices of scribal freedom).

      If B's omission is explained through harmonization to Luke, there is a
      three-fold difficulty. First, B is not prone to harmonization.
      Second, B would be harmonizing Matthew to Luke, rather than the normal
      direction of Luke to Matthew. Third, B would be harmonizing by
      omission. By themselves, every one of these three may be surprising,
      but in regard to Matt 23:38, we are asked to believe all three at the
      same time.

      B omitting eremos as superfluous also strikes me as difficult.
      Certainly God abandoning the Temple would result in its being eremos.
      But eremos, if original, really is the punch line of the
      pronouncement. Further, in the shadows of the ruins of the Temple,
      how could a scribe resist the opportunity to show the fulfillment of
      Jesus' pronouncement? Also, the word really isn't lexically
      superflous, since it brings in something of the nuance of destruction.

      Perhaps B omitted in as a stylistic improvement. But scribes in
      general, and B in particular, normally don't improve style by
      omission, especially if the word being omitted is rhetorically
      important. Besides, if stylistic improvement was the goal, the scribe
      could have harmonized to Jer 22:5 which has the felicitous eis
      eromosin.

      NA25 preferred the reading of B, along with Weiss, while WH put it in
      brackets. I think the rest of our critical editions include eremos in
      deference to the overwhelming and disparate mss which include it.

      P77 has been cited as supporting the reading of eremos, but Peter
      Head's own analysis led him to conclude that P77 omitted it.

      If we decide that B is right, then we have to ratchet up B's
      reputation several notches, since so many other mss got it wrong.

      I have two questions regarding scribal tendencies in B. Can anyone
      cite examples of B harmonizing to Luke or to LXX, or of harmonizing by
      omission.


      Thanks,
      Jim Leonard
    • James M. Leonard
      The editor of mae-2 has concluded that it represents a text from a primitive Hebrew version of Matthew. Interestingly, George Howard makes similar claims
      Message 33 of 33 , Dec 19, 2005
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        The editor of mae-2 has concluded that it represents a text from a
        primitive Hebrew version of Matthew. Interestingly, George Howard
        makes similar claims about Shem Tob's 14th century Hebrew Matthew.
        Neither claim seems to be convincing anyone, despite especially
        tenacious efforts by Howard.

        I wonder if Howard is analyzing mae-2 to find any commonality with
        his Shem Tob :)

        But otherwise, mae-2 seems to be an important ms, in that it is
        purported to be the oldest extant ms in any language to much of
        Matthew's gospel.



        Jim Leonard
        Southwestern Pennsylvania




        --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, "feeite_christian"
        <jmleonardfamily@m...> wrote:
        >
        > Just read with interest the article herein on the relatively new
        > Coptic ms of Matthew: mae-2.
        >
        > mae-1 supports the inclusion of eremos, and so we would expect, I
        > think, that mae-2 would as well. However, this is one of the
        variants
        > which is not catalogued in the overview article. Would someone
        kindly
        > let me know?
        >
        >
        >
        > Jim Leonard
        > Southwestern Pennsylvania
        >
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