Text critical question in Matt 11:9 (longish)
As part of reconstructing the Q text (I know that some of you will leave
me at this point) lying behind Luke 7:24-28 // Matt 11:7-11, I am
dealing with the text critical issue regarding the transposition of
IDEIN and PROFHTHN in Matt 11:9 (using TLG transliteration). This is the
third of a sequence of three rhetorical questions. The two variants in
Matthew 11:9 with which I am concerned are:
1. ALLA TI ECHLQATE IDEIN PROFHTHN NAI LEGW UMIN...
2. ALLA TI ECHLQATE PROFHTHN IDEIN NAI LEGW UMIN...
The first reading is found in Sinaiticus corr. #1, B*, B2, C, D, L,
Koridethianus, 0233, F1,13, the Majority text, the bulk of the Latin
texts, Syriac, and other Greek mss. and other versions. The second
reading is found in Sinaiticus*, B1, W, Z, Bohairic, and a few others.
(I am consulting the app. critici in UBS3 and N26.) Based purely on
external evidence I would have only a small hesitation going with the
first reading, which is what N26 and UBS3 do. However, N25 and Huck-
Greeven go with reading #2.
The complications are: Luke 7:26 reads as Matthew's variant #1; and this
construction is parallel to the questions in the preceding verses in both
Matthew and Luke. There is some fear that Matthew's reading #1 may
be due to scribal accommodation to Luke and to the structure of the
preceding verses. (And for this reason, I feel it dangerous to use the
Patristic evidence as external evidence in this case, since they could
easily be influenced by the Lukan parallel or the preceding questions.)
So I ask myself which reading is likely to explain the other, and it gets
Hypothesis #1a: Q read IDEIN PROFHTHN, meaning that the TI is ambiguous
as to whether it means "what?" or "why?" as in the preceding two
questions. Matthew and Luke both copied it this way. Some scribes of
Matthew's gospel got rid of the ambiguity in the third question by
inverting the word order, forcing TI to mean "why?", but destroying the
parallelism. Objections: Why did they not do so, then, for the first
two questions as well? And why do we not find scribes doing the same
thing to Luke's verse? (Maybe we do--I don't have a copy of the IGNTP
Luke volume to check.)
Hypothesis #1b: Q read IDEIN PROFHTHN as in #1a. Luke copied it that
way, but Matthew inverted the order to get rid of the ambiguity in the
question, at the expense of destroying the parallel construction of the 3
questions. Then some scribes restored the parallelism with, perhaps, an
eye on Luke's text as well. Objections: Matthew likes parallelism and
would be unlikely to disturb it. Scribes seldom accommodate Matthew's
text to Luke's--it's much more often the other way around. And scribes
tend not to introduce ambiguity--they like to clear things up.
Hypothesis #2a: Q read PROFHTHN IDEIN, meaning that although the first
two questions had an ambiguous TI, in this final question TI clearly
meant "why?". Then Luke inverted the order to create parallelism with
the first two questions, which also promotes the ambiguity. Then some
scribes of Matthew's gospel accommodated Matthew's text to Luke's.
Objections: Luke does not typically create parallelism (see Cadbury* pp.
84f) and, I think, is not likely to introduce ambiguity. And, again,
scribes are less likely to accommodate Matthew's text to Luke's than vice
versa. *Henry J. Cadbury, _The Style and Literary Method of St.
Luke_. Cambridge: Harvard University, 1920.
Hypothesis #2b: Q read PROFHTHN IDEIN as in #2a. Luke inverted the
order as in #2a. Matthew independently inverted the order, since he
likes parallelism, but some of his later scribes put it back to avoid
ambiguity. Objections: This has more coincidences than is reasonable
Whew, I hope I have that right. Have I got all the possibilities here?
Looking back on what I have written, I find the objections weakest for
hypothesis 1a, meaning that it is the least objectionable scenario as far
as I can tell. So I guess I would agree with N26/UBS3 against N25/H-G.
But most commentators that I have read, working with a pre-N26 text,
think that Matthew's text represents Q, and imagine that Luke has
introduced the parallelism. I would be very interested in hearing from
anyone wanting to make a case for the other side, or anyone with any
more light to shed on this topic.
Sterling G. Bjorndahl, bjorndahl@Augustana.AB.CA or email@example.com
Augustana University College, Camrose, Alberta, Canada (403) 679-1100
When dealing with computers, a little paranoia is usually appropriate.