Monday, July 2, 2012

Matt 6:5 ωσπερ

Instead of ωσπερ as most witnesses show (including E K L M S U W Δ Θ Π Σ Φ Ω f1.13; Or Chr), a handful of often-related manuscripts read the synonym ως (ℵ B D Z 33 372). In Matthew this relatively insignificant variation is replicated in more or less the same witnesses in 5:48, 6:16, and 24:38. Various factors converge in preferring ωσπερ over ως: (1) the proven antiquity (Origen, 3rd cent.) and variety (Byzantine, Alexandrian, Western, Caesarean) of its witnesses; (2) the greater likelihood that scribes would change the less common ωσπερ (36x in the NT) into the more common ως (500x in the NT) than vice versa; (3) the greater likelihood that Matthew himself would have written ωσπερ (at least 10 occurrences in Matthew vs. only 7 occurrences in Mark, Luke, John, and Acts combined); (4) the general axiom that, all things being equal, an occasional scribe here and there would not have preferred to write with five letters what could be written with but two; (5) the circumstance that the just preceding correction of εση into εσεσθε, if made by erasure in a manuscript, would have left only space for two letters (i.e., for ως) before the following οι υποκριται. And so the oldest, less common, most varied and widespread reading is to be preferred. Cf. also the notes on Matt 5:48 ωσπερ, Matt 6:16 ωσπερ, and Matt 24:38 ωσπερ.

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