Text of Matt 11:9 cont'd (longish)
Sterling, thanks for what is (to me at least) an interesting and valuable
exchange. Below I comment on or respond to some of your points.
In message <00976A82D6EDA3E0.000008B8@Augustana.AB.CA> "Sterling G. Bjorndahl"
writes: (considerable text omitted throughout)
> I think that our categories of "scribe" and "author" have got fuzzy
> edges. ... I'm not saying that "scribe" and "author" are always the same,
just that there is some slippage in the terminology.
I agree, especially when we are dealing with a "pre-canonical" text. But this
of course includes Q, a fortiori: how doe we know that Matthew and Luke read
the same word order here? This is not meant as an idle question! If we are
going to use a reconstructed Q for text criticism of Matthew, how are we sure
that Matthew and Luke read the same thing? I submit that in this case we cannot
> We have two possibilities for which reading is oldest-- IDEIN PROFHTHN
> or PROFHTHN IDEIN. The former has better external attestation--it is
> clearly in Luke's text, and it is in the majority of witnesses to
> Matthew's text. Concerning the latter, though, you rightly ask: "Why
> does it exist at all if it is not `original'?" I don't know if that's really
> a question about "external" evidence, though, since it's not about
> numbers, reliability, age, and geographic spread of witnesses.
It doesn't matter to my argument (on Matthew's text, that is) whether this is
defined as a question of "external" evidence or not (though an attested variant
is I suppose external).
>Here we cannot avoid the question of "preferences" ... I've not been satisfied
>yet with the depth of our discussions on this topic at the International Q
>Project meetings. ... Perfection is impossible, but that does not exclude the
>need for methodological rigour. ...
Fair enough, but we haven't yet established _what_ method is most/more rigorous.
What damage does application of statistical majorities in diction do in
reconstructing a lost text? Could we test this somehow, e.g., by noticing the
preference of Matthew for "kingdom of the heavens" and then excluding his 3 (?)
references to "kingdom of god" as due to a scribal assimilation at a very early
stage? -- by which of course I mean, assimilation at or before the archetype of
all surviving MSS of Matthew, definitely NOT by each scribe of eacxh surviving
MS of Matthew!! see further below) This is what the principle could well
produce. ... or am I missing something?
> So back to the case at hand. Whence does this "minority reading"
> arise? My claim is that it arises from a small number of scribes of
> Matthew's gospel attempting to erase the ambiguity. Or maybe it even
> arose by accident--it is poorly attested in the Greek manuscripts.
OK so far ...
> It seems less likely to me that Matthew read PROFHTHN IDEIN and then
> the vast majority of scribes changed it. Why would they change it?
> Because they wanted to continue the parallel construction? So many of
> them wanted to do that??
This scenario is not at all required: only that a putative ancestor of the MSS
attesting PROFETEN IDEIN made the change. I think here a distinction between
"scribe" and "author" is relevant. There is no need to postulate individual
alterations by the hand of each scribe that agrees with a group! This is odd
reasoning in text-critical terms. Instead, one would normally suppose that with
two variants, one is "original" (in the sense that it is in the archetype of all
existing MSS, if not in "Matthew"'s text) and the other is an alteration,
whether deliberate or by error. Later scribes either choose between these two
known variants or follow the only one they know. THEY DO NOT EACH MAKE A NEW
ALTERATION OR ERROR -- here you really are (IMHO) importing the "editorial" or
"authorial" model too much, when dealing with 4th-5th-century and later biblical
>Even less likely is interference from Luke's
> gospel. It is well known that Matthew's was the best loved of the
> gospels, and the vast majority of cases of synoptic interference are when
> texts of Mark and Luke are conformed to Matthew.
I agree that this is the classical view, and something that I have noticed
firsthand in the case of interference from Matthew into Mark's text; but I for
one have never checked the MSS to see how often Luke's text affects Matthew's.
Probably this material is somewhere, possibly Michael Holmes of Bethel College
> No, it seems less likely that many scribes were entranced by the poetry
> of the passage (making the change from PROFHTHN IDEIN to IDEIN
> PROFHTHN) than that a few were bothered by the ambiguity and so
> eliminated it at the expense of parallelism (IDEIN PROFHTHN to PROFHTHN
> IDEIN). Sure, this is a matter of "preference," but isn't it the more
> probable scenario?
Not necessarily, for the reasons above -- your scenario of the mindset of
scribes seems overly imaginative. IMHO we are dealing with the typicalities of
transmission more than with new "decision making" at each MS stage. But if you
are right, are you applying the principle of "preferring the more difficult
reading" that I tried to apply in the opposite direction? I'm not sure.
A more generally followed text-critical principle, of course, is to determine
which variant "best explains the other(s)." How would you apply that to this
case? (You could humo(u)r me by sticking to the text of Matthew for that
question, or (also) apply it to the Q reconstruction.) This would of course be
a use of _internal_ criteria, which is thus more elegant in my text-critical
universe (;-)) than attempting to rely on the very muddy external evidence for
the gospels. You seem to prefer external criteria (??), which, as a
conservative principle, might make more sense for choosing Q recnstruction than
reconstructing Matthew, as you put it, since we do have MSS of Matthew per se.
All for now,
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