Friday, October 29, 2010

Matt 3:11 βαπτιζω υμας

     After εγω μεν at the beginning of the verse, a few manuscripts (p101 ℵ* B W 33 700 990 f1.13) transpose the words to read υμας βαπτιζω "for the purpose of better adapting the words to those at the end of the verse" (Bloomfield, GNT, 19). There was no need for Matthew to emphasize the first υμας, since doing so would have lessened the significance of the emphasis of the second υμας. By far the more memorable clause is the second of the two that contain υμας, and the word order of the second (υμας βαπτισει εν) may well have influenced an early scribe to conform the word order of the less familiar first occurrence to the more familiar second. Additionally, the critic could have thought to improve the construction by choosing a simple way to avoid the hiatus of βαπτιζω υμας, or to attach the prepositional phrase (εν υδατι) to the verb βαπτιζω just as the more famous prepositional phrase at the end of the sentence (εν πνευματι αγιω) is attached to βαπτισει. It is far less likely that all other manuscripts should reflect harmonization either to Mark 1:8 or Luke 3:16 or alteration of a perfectly fine construction than that a minority of manuscripts would reflect conformation to the word order that appears in the very same verse.

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