Friday, October 22, 2010

Matt 2:21 ηλθεν

     The compound form εισηλθεν that appears in a few manuscripts (ℵ B C 159 273 399) arose, according to Bloomfield (Annotations, 2), either from scribal error or from "critical alteration to a more significant term," as happens at Acts 18:7, where εισηλθεν εις is also found in some manuscripts (p74 ℵ A D* 33 104 323 945 1175 1739 pc lat sy-p.hmg). Alternatively, if the minority reading εισηλθεν is secondary to the reading found in Eusebius and the Sahidic (i.e., επανηλθεν), it is possible that an editor chose to improve the style by conforming the preposition of the compound verb (επαν-) to the preposition that follows (εις). In Matthew, both the constructions ερχομαι + εις (used 20x) and εισερχομαι + εις (used 25x) are common enough, and it is absurd to think that a passage so verbally dissimilar and remote as Mark 1:14 would have caused the alteration of εισηλθεν into ηλθεν at this place, especially since such alterations are commonplace among a minority of manuscripts in the Gospel of Matthew itself (cf. 8:14 [εισελθων in several minuscules]; 9:28 [εισελθοντι in ℵ* Σ Ν]; 13:36 [εισηλθεν in ℵ Or]; 17:25 [ελθοντα in ℵ1 B f1 892]; 18:8 [ελθειν in several minuscules, it sy-s.c]; 19:17 [ελθειν in D 71 sy-s]; 21:10 [ελθοντος in ℵ* 566 1675*]; 21:23 [εισελθοντι in K Π]; 27:53 [ηλθεν in D lat sy-s.c]; 28:11 [εισελθοντες in Σ]). The two other cases of people entering a "land" (εις γην [2:20] and εις την γην [14:34] have the simple form of the verb, but such is hardly enough evidence to build an intrinsic case for the probability of ηλθεν here. Given the state of things, it is reasonable to suppose, as elsewhere in Matthew when the same variations arise, that a minority of manuscripts will generally reflect remote scribal alterations that failed to gain traction against the multiplying numerical superiority of the copies of the original text, and therefore ηλθεν, secured by the preponderate weight of more than 1600 Greek manuscripts from everywhere, is not to be rejected.

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