Dear James (and List),
Thanks for your post, and I agree with your analysis.
> What do you do with the reading of Codex W in Luke 2:7, where TON
> PRWTOTOKON is absent? It looks like there was some motivation to
> omit the reference to "the firstborn" in Luke 2:7. If there, why not
> here in Mt. 1:25?
Indeed a good observation, but one that might be countered by the
consideration that W in Luke merely reflects harmonization to the
reading of Aleph B OL OS Coptic at Matt 1:25.
Jonathan C. Borland
Below are a few notes on the passage by some text critics I admire:
Johann Albrecht Bengel (Apparatus criticus ad Novum Testamentum [ed.
Philipp David Burk; 2d ed.; Tubingae: sumtibus Io. Georgii Cottae,
1763], 93): “For Helvidius and Jerome in a book against him discussed
among many other things the addition after Matthew’s words, which very
often in that place are rendered as “until she bore a son,” and they
immediately claim that the new argument selected from the term
“firstborn” is only from Luke 2:7. And it indeed appears that the
clause has been carried from Luke over to Matthew. If Barb. 1. [= ?]
and Coptic drew this reading from the Greek manuscripts, then they
have great weight: and conversely if they received it from the Latin,
then they strongly corroborate the sincere reading of the very old
Latin interpreter. In some places our judgment proceeds differently
than before: and still I must say to myself that no one would have
written it out of capriciousness. For I do not accept those things
which they had strengthened with a pristine use; but, nevertheless, if
truth so orders, I do not shun the reading: but I proceed little by
little into those things which, being broken, they put back together,
things which must be drawn out from their own situation."
Johann Jakob Wettstein (Novum Testamentum graecum [2 vols.;
Amstelaedami: Ex officina Dommeriana, 1751, 1752], 1:239): “They were
omitted out of diligence, as J. Mill has judged (Comm., 18), lest one
suppose, as Helvidius, that Mary had given birth to others after she
had brought forth Jesus into the light."
Johann Jakob Griesbach (Commentarius criticus in textum graecum Novi
Testamenti [2 vol.; J. C. G. Goepferdt, 1798, 1811], 1:17): “TON
before UION and AUTHS TON PRWTOTOKON were deliberately omitted (as
also PRIN H SUNELQEIN AUTOUS is missing from two manuscripts in 1:18),
so that it not be believed that Mary gave birth to many babies after
Christ was born. It appears less probable that it was moved to this
place from Luke 2:7."
Karl Friedrich August Fritzsche (Evangelium Matthaei [Lipsiae:
Sumtibus Frederici Fleischeri, 1826], 55): “Someone cut short this
expression, which somewhere (see Griesbach) was clearly omitted, not
absurdly out of diligence, seeing how it appeared clearly superfluous,
since whatever woman who gives birth brings forth her own children.
For truly the Evangelist spoke such by a predetermined plan to signify
that there was no need either for Joseph or for any another mortal to
intervene with this child of Mary."
Samuel Thomas Bloomfield (Critical Annotations [London: Longman,
Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1860], 1): “Not only is the authority for
cancelling AUTHS TON PROF. [sic] very insufficient, but internal
evidence is quite in favour of the words, from the greater likelihood
that they should have been omitted (whether, as [Alford] thinks, from
superstitious veneration for Mary, I would not say) than inserted,
from what cause soever."
Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer (Critical and Exegetical Hand-book to
the Gospel of Matthew [trans. from the 6th German ed. Peter Christie;
rev. and ed. Frederick Crombie and William Stewart; New York: Funk &
Wagnalls, 1890], 35): “Certainly (comp. especially Bengel) the
Received reading has the appearance of having originated from Luke ii.
7 (where there is no various reading). The witnesses, however, in
favor of the Recepta greatly preponderate; the virginity of Mary, also
(against which, according to the testimony of Jerome, doubts were
raised in consequence of the PRWTOTOKON), certainly more probably
suggested the removal of the PRWTOTOKON than its insertion. Comp. Mill
and Wetstein. Finally, had UION merely been the original reading in
the present passage, the PRWTOTOKON in Luke ii. 7 could scarcely have
remained unassailed” (35).