Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Matt 6:12 αφιεμεν

A few related manuscripts (ℵ* B Z f1 pc vg-mss) have the aorist αφηκαμεν, either a theological embellishment in view of 6:14–15 that follows (cf. also 5:23–24) or, more likely, a stylistic improvement toward the tense that traditionally expresses custom or habit. All other manuscripts and versions have the present αφιεμεν/αφιομεν (including ℵ1 D E G K L M S U W Δ Π* Σ Φ Ω f13 565 1424 it vg sy-c sa bo; Didache). Some claim the Peshitta in support of the aorist, but as Cook (54–56) rightly notes, that version "has ܫܒ݂ܰܩܢ [šəḇaqn] the first person plural of Peal, which however stands for the present when it denotes a habit or condition." This point is further substantiated by the fact that the Peshitta has the same word in Luke 11:4, where all Greek manuscripts have the present.
     Bloomfield (GNT, 1:44-5) remarks, "I can scarcely doubt . . . that αφηκαμεν was an alteration proceeding from the Alex[andrian] Critics, who thought that the Aorist expressive of custom would be better Greek." Conversely, others claim that the present tense is a harmonization to Luke 11:4 (cf. Metzger, 13, et al.), but such is not convincing. For which is more likely: that about six related Greek manuscripts from before the 14th century should use an alternate and more polished way to express the custom of the Koine present, or that all other Greek manuscripts and even the Greek origin from which all subsequent translations descended should have harmonized the text away from the more famous version of the Lord's Prayer and toward the less famous one? The paucity of the witnesses for αφηκαμεν combined with their frequent alliance elsewhere indicates that they likely represent merely a relatively late and localized intrusion into the manuscript tradition that should therefore be rejected.

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