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Re: Mt. 6:1

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  • james_snapp_jr
    Dear Jerry: In terms of which variant in Matthew 6:1 – righteousness versus alms (which might also be called charitable deeds in general) – has the
    Message 1 of 5 , Feb 8, 2012
      Dear Jerry:

      In terms of which variant in Matthew 6:1 – "righteousness" versus "alms" (which might also be called "charitable deeds" in general) – has "the most textual evidence," the answer is that among Greek manuscripts, "charitable deeds" has by far the most manuscripts in its favor. But that is far from the whole story.

      One aspect of the question is stylistic: here in 6:1, is Jesus introducing three expressions of righteousness (alms, prayer, and fasting), presenting them all as righteous acts? Or is he introducing the first one (alms)? The first option is pretty and makes the first part of the chapter seem a bit tidier, or thematically linked. But that doesn't mean that this is really what Jesus said.

      Regarding external evidence, only a handful of Greek manuscripts support "righteousness," but they include B, Aleph, D, 0250 (the Codex Climaci Rescriptus), and minuscules 1 and 1582. The Vulgate agrees with them. But "alms" ("charitable deeds") is supported by E K L M S U V W Z Delta and by the overwhelming majority of minuscules (including 33), and by a widespread array of versional evidence: Mae-1, Codex Bobbiensis, and the testimony of Didymus represent it in Egypt; the Gothic version indicates that Wulfilas used it, c. 350; the Curetonian Syriac, the Bohairic, and the Fayummic versions support DOSIN, which indirectly supports "almsgiving," and the Peshitta supports it directly, and I've read a claim that Chrysostom uses it too (Burgon/Miller provide the locations, which I don't have time to look up today); support from the Armenian and Ethiopic versions adds to the diversity of support for "charitable deeds."

      The Diatessaron is said to support "alms," or "gift-giving," too (and "gift-giving" is a natural rendering of "alms" but no so much for "righteous deeds"). That could echo the Peshitta, but Burgon/Miller cite Ephraem Syrus not only as a witness for ELEHMOSUNHN in 3:329, 350, but also as a witness for "DOSIN" ("gift") in "74, in I Cor. xiii. 3."

      A catena-note exists, attributed to Apollinaris and to Origen (see Amy Donaldson's 2009 dissertation, Vol. 2, pages 356-357), that runs as follows: "In other copies, it says "righteousness," referring to alms; but the goal of alms he sets before us is honor from God, not honor from people. For it is from those whom someone wishes to please that he receives praise as his reward. It is not the one who is actually noticed, but the one who does this wishing to be noticed, who has already acted "in order to be noticed."" If this note comes from Origen, then his testimony constitutes the earliest evidence for both readings – and he seems to favor "alms," handling the variant-reading "righteousness" by considering it synonymous with "alms."

      In Codex Sinaiticus, there is an unusual feature here. As the text now stands, the last three letters, NHN, are apparently untouched at the beginning of a line, but on the preceding line is DOSEIN ("gift," or, "giving," as a gerund). Some has dotted over DOSEIN (which is one way that copyists signified "disregard this") and wrote "DIKOSU" in the margin, and the "K" has a squiggly tail which means that it should be read not as "K" but as "KAI," which means that the margin-note really = "DIKAIOSU" which is the first two-thirds of the usual Byzantine reading (the last third being the "NHN" on the following line). What's weird here is not only the unusual reading DOSEIN; what's weird is that the "NHN" doesn't seem to have been messed with by the person who wrote "DOSEIN." If you look at the passage at the Codex Sinaiticus in Raking Light at the highest possible magnification-level you will see what I mean. I don't want to disagree with those who have affirmed that Sinaiticus' first-hand reading here is DIKAIOSUNHN, but it kinda looks to me like DOSEINNHN (??) was the first-hand reading. (Did the person who added "DIKOSU" in the margin very very thoroughly erase deletion-overdots over NHN?)

      It seems more likely to me that Matthew framed three neat topical passages (6:1-4, 6:5-15, and 6:16-18) with three distinct introductory sentences, than that all three subjects were intended to be introduced under the term "righteous deeds" in 6:1.

      In the lectionary, Mt. 6:1-13 is all read together; it's a Saturday reading, in Cheese-fare Week. Perhaps, if this lection was similarly read as one lection in very ancient times, the opening sentence was adjusted so as to refer to both alms and to prayer, rather than exclusively to alms, so as to serve to introduce the whole lection rather than just its first part.

      For additional details see pages 40-41 of "A Textual Commentary on the Holy Gospels, Part One - Matthew 1-14," by John Burgon and Edward Miller (but bear in mind that some of the patristic references listed there are much more ambiguous (or just wrong) than one might think; the references of Clement and Cyprian really refer to Mt. 6:2-4, not 6:1).

      Yours in Christ,

      James Snapp, Jr.

      --- In textualcriticism@yahoogroups.com, Jerry McDonald <jerry@...> wrote:
      > The King James renders Mt. 6:1 as "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven." The TR uses the word ελεημοσύνη and translates it as "alms." The Word
      > Study Dictionary defines it as "eleÄ"mosúnÄ"; gen. eleÄ"mosúnÄ"s, from eleḗmōn (G1655), merciful. Mercifulness, compassion (Sept.: Pro_21:21; Isa_38:18). In the NT by metonymy of effect for cause, alms, charity, money given to the poor (Mat_6:1 [TR]."
      > The American Standard 1901 translates it as "Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father who is in heaven" (Mat 6:1), and the WH uses the word "δικαιοσύνη" which is translated as "righteousness," and is defined that way by the Word Study
      > Dictionary "dikaiosúnÄ"; gen. dikaiosúnÄ"s, fem. noun from díkaios (G1342), just, righteous. Justice, righteousness."
      > You may have already covered this and I will go back over my emails and see if you have, but I would like some input on which has the most textual evidence, so I can prepare my class lesson on it. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
      > In Christ Jesus
      > Jerry D. McDonald
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