Sunday, October 17, 2010

Matt 2:8 ακριβως εξετασατε

     A few witnesses (ℵ B C* D Σ f1.13 33vid 157 205 pc lat) transpose the words to read πορευθεντες εξετασατε ακριβως, perhaps (so Wettstein, 1:247) an attempted improvement of the text by removing any ambiguity concerning which word ακριβως was to modify (was it "go directly and search" or "go and search accurately"?). Bloomfield (Annotations, 1) argues that the reading of the few manuscripts "certainly makes better composition" and thus is indicative of "critical emendation," whereas Griesbach (1:19) says the transposition was accidental rather than intentional. But if the error was accidental, it is much more likely that scribes, after writing πορευθεντες, would have skipped ακριβως in anticipation of the imperative since such a construction is relatively common (cf. Matt 9:13; 11:4; 28:19; Luke 7:22; 13:32; 17:14; 22:8) than, were the reading of the few manuscripts original, that they would have skipped the imperative and first written ακριβως. Matthew frequently places the adverb before the word it modifies (cf. 1:18, 19; 2:7; 4:20, 22 [versus αφεντες ευθεως in Mark 1:20]; 5:24, 28; 8:8, 21 [versus απελθοντι πρωτον in Luke 9:59]; 21:28; 26:34; 28:7, etc.). See Matt 14:15, where Matthew's ηδη παρηλθεν is transposed by a few manuscripts (ℵ Z f1 pc), a transposition that may or may not have been influenced by the possible earlier omission of ηδη as reflected in some versions (sy-c.p sa bo); cf. also παλιν in 26:44, αρτι in 26:53, εξω in 26:69, etc., for similar examples of transposition with omission. Griesbach notes that two manuscripts of not much authority omit ακριβως, an error that he believes arose due to the earlier transposition, but which was more likely caused by accident, as mentioned above, due to anticipation of the imperative following πορευθεντες. But scribes were more likely to remove possible ambiguity than vice versa. Accordingly, in Matt 26:44 the same principle militates against the reading of some manuscripts (ℵ B C D L 067 pc lat sa bo), which alter the slightly ambiguous απελθων παλιν προσηυξατο ("again he went away and prayed" or "he went away and prayed again") into the less ambiguous παλιν απελθων προσηυξατο ("again he went away and prayed"; note the early omission of παλιν [p37 Θ f1.13 pc a sy-s], presumably to omit what was thought superfluous, especially if παλιν was taken with προσηυξατο which is already modified by εκ τριτου that follows). For all of these reasons the authenticity of the word order reflected in most Greek manuscripts, namely, ακριβως εξετασατε, is to be maintained.

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