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The Age of the Format of the Eleven Heothina

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  • James Snapp, Jr.
    I m preparing a post about signs of Alexandrian editing in Mark, but along the way I found something else that seemed worth a side-trip: Eleven passages about
    Message 1 of 1 , May 19, 2009
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      I'm preparing a post about signs of Alexandrian editing in Mark, but along the way I found something else that seemed worth a side-trip:

      Eleven passages about the resurrection of Jesus, from the ends of the four Gospels, have for centuries constituted the components of a series of lections which sleeper church-goers heard just after their own early morning rising. They are:

      (1) Matthew 28:16-20,
      (2) Mark 16:1-8,
      (3) Mark 16:9-20,
      (4) Luke 24:1-12,
      (5) Luke 24:12-35,
      (6) Luke 24:36-52,
      (7) John 20:1-10,
      (8) John 20:11-18,
      (9) John 20:19-31,
      (10) John 21:1-14, and
      (11) John 21:15-25.

      How far back do these divisions of these passages go? I think we can trace it back pretty far: prior to the production of Codex Vaticanus. Looking into Codex B itself, when we look at the beginning of each Heothina-lection, this is what we see:

      (1) Matthew 28:16-20 - - a gap in the text, and a subscripted bar in the lower left margin of the line.

      (2) Mark 16:1-8 - - a gap in the text. B's section #62 begins here.

      (3) Mark 16:9-20 - - absent in Codex B.

      (4) Luke 24:1-12 - - a gap in the text, and a subscripted bar in the lower left margin of the line. A numbered section begins here.

      (5) Luke 24:12-35 - - a gap in the text, and a subscripted bar in the lower left margin of the line. Plus, there is a gap in the text and a subscripted bar in the lower left margin of the line in which Luke 24:12 ends; the correspondence to the beginning of Heothina-lection #5 and the end of Heothina-lection #4 is exact.
      (6) Luke 24:36-52 - - there is no gap in the text; there is a subscripted bar in the lower left margin of the line.

      (7) John 20:1-10 - - a gap in the text, and a subscripted bar in the lower left margin of the line. A numbered section begins here.
      (8) John 20:11-18 - - a gap in the text, and a subscripted bar in the lower left margin of the line.

      (9) John 20:19-31 - - a gap in the text, and a subscripted bar in the lower left margin of the line. A numbered section begins here.

      (10) John 21:1-14 - - a gap in the text, and a paragraphos-mark in the lower left margin of the line. A numbered section begins here.
      (11) John 21:15-25 - - a (small) gap in the text, and a subscripted bar in the lower left margin of the line. A numbered section begins here.

      We should remember that there are small gaps and subscripted bars all over the Gospels in B. The bars, or some of the bars, may have been added later but of course the gaps in the text are original.

      It seems very unlikely that the exceptionally close correspondence between the divisions of the eleven Heothina-lections, and these gaps in Codex B, are altogether accidental. It seems reasonable to deduce that the creator of the system of gaps displayed in Codex B expected his readers to read the Heothina-lections, with the following differences: in his mind, Heothina-lection #5 properly ended, and Heothina-lection #6 properly began, at the beginning of Luke 24:33, rather than 24:36.

      It remains an open question whether the Heothina-lections, as they existed when B was made, had 10 or 11 parts. One one hand, Codex B does not have 16:9-20; on the other hand, all other fully extant witnesses for the Heothina support all eleven lections. Here I merely mention casually (having gone into further detail about this elsewhere already) that in an early copy in which the Heothina were given short abbreviated notes, Gospel #1 would end at the end of Matthew, and Gospel #2 would end at the end of Mark 16:8, and this might confuse an inexperienced but disciplined scribe assigned to make the first volume (containing Matthew and Mark) of a two-volume collection of the four Gospels.

      Each of the eleven Heothina probably originated as a chapter which would be at home in the list of titloi, but the Heothina-lections received such a high amount of attention in the liturgy that they were detached and given separate treatment. This is merely an extrapolation from the evidence, but the evidence seems clear: in Mark, Luke, and John, the titloi-lists stop just as the describe the last scenes before the scenes which are covered by the Heothina-lections.

      The last titloi in Mark = About the body of the Lord, and the account of the Lord's body ends in 15:47; in the next verse, Heothina #3 begins.

      The last titloi in Luke = About Cleopas, and Cleopas leaves center stage in the course of 24:32-36; in 24:36 or (in B) in 24:33, Heothina #6 begins.

      The last titloi in John = The Request for the Body of the Lord. The brief treatment on that subject concludes in 19:42; in the very next verse, Heothina #7 begins.

      There is a loose end: in Matthew, the last titloi = "About the Request for the Body of the Lord," and the narrative about Joseph of Arimathaea's request, and his entombment of Jesus' body, concludes in Mt. 27:61; the next scene is short, however, and might be attached as something generally related to the subject of the Lord's body, with the result that the lection could close with 27:66. But that still would leave 16 verses before the beginning of Heothina #1. Possibly this is merely an example of arbitrary chaptering, but another possibility is that the Gospel-readings of the Passion, or at least some of them, were part of the _*One Same Series*_ that contained the Kephalaia and the Heothina. In B, the beginning of Mt. 27:62 and the end of Mt. 27:66 are both marked by a gap in the text and a subscripted bar in the left margin; Mt. 27:62-66 = Passion-lection #12.

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.
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