RE: Text of Matt 11:9 cont'd (longish)
You're forcing me to try to express myself clearly. :-) That's why I
started this in the first place. Thanks.
> how do 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
I presume that you're talking about the possibility of "Q-Mt" and
"Q-Lk", where Matthew and Luke each had slightly different copies of Q.
This is indee highly probable. But methodologically it is very
difficult to control. I use them as a last resort, when all other
explanations fail. I think that this is consistent with a judicious
application of Occam--why multiply sources when there is no need to?
All that would do in this case is add extra factors to the question
"Where did this reading arise?", namely, "from Q, from Q-Mt, from
Matthew, or from one or more later copyists of Matthew?" Since we know
nothing about Q-Mt, and do not know how to offer any control of such a
discussion, I leave it out of the equation. I'll be the first to admit
that anyone's model of synoptic relationships is too simple to be
"real"--after all, "map is not territory." Models are fictions, but
remember Picasso on art? Art is "a lie that tells the truth." Models
allow us to make approximations and general statements. They will never
be 100% accurate, because they will be too simple, but neither should
they be made more complex than necessary to explain what is there. So
you are right that "in this case we cannot know" that Matthew and Luke
read the same thing, but in order to have some semblence of rationality
to our method we need to choose a model and stick with it until it
fails. So I keep Q-Mt and Q-Lk out of the picture until I need them.
Fictional, yes, but it prevents a "deus ex machina" approach to Q
reconstruction. I presume that Matthew and Luke read the same word
order here, because my model of synoptic relationships does not need
Q-Mt to explain the alternative reading at this point.
> >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?
But what is our alternative? Arbitrariness? The "damage" that this
method does is to guarantee that our reconstruction will not be 100%
accurate. But no method can guarantee that. This method, in fact, is
helpful by making us very conscious of the fact that our reconstruction
is a scholarly artifact, and can in no way claim to be exactly "Q".
> 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
If I understand you correctly, then we're unintentionally at odds here.
I'm saying that scribes rarely accomodate Matthew to Mark or Luke, so
those three instances of TOU QEOU in Matthew are probably Matthew's own.
If, in those locations, we have a few scribes who write TWN OURANWN
instead of TOU QEOU, then we could suspect those scribes of accomodating
their text to Matthew's usual formula, right? TOU QEOU would be the
"more difficult" reading since it is contrary to Matthew's style, and
would therefore be preferred, given what we know about scribal
accommodation of texts.
This doesn't help us with Matthew 11:9 since there is some difficulty
agreeing about which reading is the "more difficult." I submit that
IDEIN PROFHTN is more difficult in terms of language because it
continues the ambiguity, but PROFHTN IDEIN is more difficult in terms of
structure because it destroys the parallelism. How do we adjudicate?
> > 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.
It's not odd reasoning, it's just poor expression. :-) What I mean to
say is, it is much easier to claim in this instance that the minority
reading shared a single archetype than that the majority reading did. I
have trouble believing that that long list for IDEIN PROFHTHN in UBS3's
apparatus arose because one scribe wanted to make the change, and all
the others happily copied him. There's too much geographical and
chronological spread. On ther other hand, the list for PROFHTHN IDEIN
is much shorter *and* mostly restricted to Egypt. (I think it is
dangerous to depend too much on the versions and the fathers for
something as subtle as this, except that maybe Latin is close enough to
Greek to work here.) So all it would require is one Egyptian scribe to
change IDEIN PROFHTHN to PROFHTHN IDEIN because he (less likely "she")
disliked the ambiguity of the question. The opposite theory, that
Matthew wrote PROFHTHN IDEIN, requires many scribes--it would take more
than one to explain the diversity and geographical spread here, unless
one supports a consipracy theory--to make the change to IDEIN PROFHTHN
simply because they a) liked Luke's text better, and/or b) wanted to
continue the parallel construction from the previous verses, all at the
expense of introducing ambiguity back in. Which is more probable?
> >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
I've personally noticed once in the N26/UBS3 app crit where the simplest
explanation seems to be that Luke's reading influenced scribes of
Matthew. Unfortunately I didn't write down that location, and I don't
remember where it was. But the opposite case is quite common.
> > 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.
Probably. We need to ask: What is "more difficult" for Matthew, and
what is "more difficult" for his copyists? These may be significantly
different. Matthew likes parallel and semitic or LXX-sounding
constructions, though he is not 100% consistent. I think that he's
unlikely to break up a pattern, though it's not impossible. He is
willing to tolerate and even introduce some ambiguity into the
text--witness what he does with the two donkeys in the "Triumphal Entry"
(which I affectionately call "The Pericope of Jesus the Circus Trick
Rider"). I know less about scribes (your caution that I am being
"imaginative" is probably correct), but let's face it, most of them did
not have the creativity of the originator of codex D. By the Byzantine
period we find them happily conflating conflicting readings from
different families of manuscripts. Many of the small changes that we
find, at least those that are not completely trivial, are minor
clarifications or corrections. Would it not be fair to say that most of
the scribes had the attitudes of clerks rather than poets? Dare we use
that observation to make text-critical judg(e)ments?
> 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.)
That's what I tried to do in my initial posting, although perhaps too
briefly. I said, in essence, What if Q read PROFHTHN IDEIN? What if Q
read IDEIN PROFHTHN? In each case, how can we explain the existence of
the other case? As part of that I think I covered the same question for
Matthew (if Matthew read one or the other, how can we explain what his
copyists did?). I find the explanation more satisfying to see that both
Matthew and Luke (and Q) read IDEIN PROFHTHN, and that a minority of
copyists of Matthew's gospel (possibly just one) didn't like the
ambiguity and so destroyed the poetry by writing PROFHTHN IDEIN (or
maybe it was an accident). The opposite, to say that Matthew wrote
PROFHTHN IDEIN (why??) and scribes accommodated Matthew's text to a)
Luke and/or b) the preceding verses seems less likely. If you want to
continue discussing this, maybe it is these two assertions that we could
focus on. Which reading do you think best explains the others? And can
you make such a claim without resorting to "preferences"?? ;-)
BTW, this isn't a private conversation. If there are any other text
critics listening in, I'd appreciate your feedback too. Of course,
maybe it's not the best time of the semester for you to be reading
anything other than student essays.... :-)
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.