Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Matt 6:22 ο οφθαλμος σου απλους η

Some witnesses (ℵ B W Φ pc lat; Bas) transpose the verb η to the first position in the clause, while most witnesses have it, as in the following apodosis and both clauses of 6:23, in the final position (including E G K L M S U V Γ Δ Θ Σ Π Ω [Byz ca. 1500 mss] f1.13 33. 565. 892. 1424 it; GregThaum? [Fragmentum in evangelium Matthaei 6.22–23 {PG 10:1189}] Chr Aug). Some lectionaries (l 844. l 2211) naturally omit the verb altogether as it is unnecessary.
     While it is more likely, all things being equal, that an editor would have wished to place the verb last in order to harmonize it with the same position of the verbs in the following clauses (the preposing of the same verb in 6:23 in ℵ* W is a case in point!), it is at least possible that the harmonization is by Matthew's own design (cf., e.g., 5:46–47; 10:13; 16:19; 18:18; 20:26–27; 23:18). In this case, however, two transcriptional considerations may account for the divergence of those few witnesses that place the verb first.

  1. The accidental dittography of the final letter of ΟΥΝ (i.e. ΟΥΝΝ) could have caused the introduction of the verb (Η) in that position, as the confusion of the letters Η and Ν was one of the most common in the uncial period, especially in old, damaged, or hard-to-read exemplars.
  2. Similarly, the confusion of the final letter of the particle ΟΥΝ for the verb Η would have resulted in the ungrammatical and nonsensical εαν ου η, which also might account for the omission of ουν in ℵ (the others in that textual tradition repairing the "ου" by adding a ν where it apparently had been lost), although the omission of the 3-letter ουν in ℵ also may be accounted for by its similarity with the preceding 3-letter word (εαν) or by harmonization toward an early version (cf. lat sy-c mae bo-ms).

     As internal evidence is rather inconclusive, one may preliminarily accept the order of words found in the vast consensus of manuscripts on the ground of their predominant accuracy in such trivial matters throughout the long sequence of variations investigated up to this point.

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