Monday, October 18, 2010

Matt 2:9 εστη

     A few manuscripts (ℵ B C D f1 33 205 pc) alter the aorist active εστη into the aorist passive εσταθη, perhaps reflecting a pious improvement of the text, namely, as Fritzsche (77) contends, to teach that the star did not stop accidentally by its own power but rather that its course had been prevented by divine influence. Wettstein (1:247), citing Ammonius as an example, notes that the grammarians differentiated the action of the two words, σταθηναι indicating action by means of another and στηναι indicating action by one's own power, but also comments that the biblical authors did not always follow such tidy distinctions (cf. Luke 8:44; 18:11, 40; 19:8; Acts 2:14; 17:22, etc.). Bloomfield (Annotations, 1) agrees that εσταθη is a critical emendation, and chides the critics who should have known that εστη was to be taken in a "popular" sense, namely, that the star "ceased to advance and indeed disappeared." Meyer (56) likewise discerns that εσταθη is "of the nature of a gloss" in order to make the expression more precise, noting the same variation in 27:11 in almost the same manuscripts (ℵ B C L Θ Σ f1 33 pc). These internal reasons support the reading of the consensus of over 1600 Greek manuscripts, and thus εστη is to be retained.

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