Friday, October 8, 2010

Matt 1:7-8 Ασα . . . Ασα

While Metzger (1) calls the variant Ασαφ (p1vid ℵ B C [D in Luke] f1.13 205 700 1506 pc it [sy-hmg] co) an "erroneous spelling" that scribes would have wanted to correct, the antiquity of Ασα reflected in the consensus of all manuscripts (including W/032, ca. 400) is clear based on the agreement of the oldest Old Latin manuscript (a/3, 4th cent.) with the combination of the two Old Syriac manuscripts (sy-s.c [4th and 5th cent., respectively). Both Wettstein (1:229) and Griesbach (1:11) argue that scribes would have been more likely to change Ασα into Ασαφ since Asaph the poet was more familiar to them than Asa the king. Weiss (20) calls this very alteration "thoughtless" and "characteristic" of the oldest text. The two names are never interchangeable in the OT narratives, although occasionally the following spelling variations occur in the LXX: Ασαφατ for Ασα (1 Kgs 15:25 by 501); Ασαφ for Ασα (1 Kgs 15:33 by N*); Ασαβ for Ασα (1 Chr 3:10 by "ms. 60" [so Metzger]; 2 Chr 16:7 by 120); Ασα for Ασαφ (2 Chr 29:13 by B 55 127). That only these few comparable examples exist out of 90 or so instances of the two names in the LXX demonstrates just what one should expect: while the vast consensus of manuscripts always distinguished the names, less than 10 percent of the time a single scribe (with the exception of 2 Chr 29:13 where 3 manuscripts vary) wrote one name for the other; furthermore, in the few interchanges of the names, Ασα was four times more likely to be confused for Ασαφ/Ασαβ/Ασαφατ than was Ασαφ for Ασα. Such a circumstance explains the minority reading in this place and corroborates the authenticity of the reading reflected in the consensus of all manuscripts. See also James A. Borland ("Re-examining New Testament Textual-Critical Principles and Practices Used to Negate Inerrancy," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 25:4 [1982]: 499–506), who calls the reading Ασαφ "an early scribal blunder unjudiciously copied into fortunately but a handful of Greek MSS" (503). Cf. also the comment on Matt 1:10, and Luke 3:32, where it is not suitable to suggest that all 1600+ Greek manuscripts except three (p4 ℵ* B) reflect an attempt to correct Σαλα to Σαλμων, but rather that a few manuscripts departed from the original, either by following the Old Syriac (which also has Σαλα at Matt 1:4–5) or a common intermediary, by assimilation to Luke 3:35 where Σαλα is certain, or by an attempt to correct what could have been perceived to have been an egregious error by Luke in referring to King Solomon there (cp. Σαλμων with Σολομων), etc. In addition, Rendel Harris ("Conflate Readings of the New Testament," American Journal of Philology 6:1 [1885]: 25–40) suggests that both Asaph and Amos (1:10) came about by "ghastly line-errors," namely, that "Ασαφ arises simply from the corresponding letters in the word Ιωσαφατ" and Αμως from the corresponding letters in Ιωσειαν, and that such an explanation "is not to be shaken by an array of excellent MSS in which the archaic error may be preserved" (26–7).

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