Re: ACTS 5:29 clause order in D is puzzling

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Sat Jun 21 1997 - 07:10:48 EDT

At 12:59 AM -0400 6/21/97, Micheal Palmer wrote:
>At 1:52 PM +0000 6/19/97, Clayton Bartholomew wrote:
>>It is hard for me to make sense out of Acts 5:29
>>according to D (original hand). The clause order seems
>>to put the wrong words in the wrong mouth.
>>The original hand of D inverts the clause order of
>>Acts 5:29 (not in NA27) so that: PEIQARCEIN DE QEO
>>MALLON H ANQRWPOIS appears first, before Peter starts
>>to speak. This puts PEIQARCEIN DE QEO MALLON H
>>ANQRWPOIS (and/but to obey God rather than men) in
>>the mouth of the [High] Priest which seems kind of
>>Following the punctuation of Ropes who places the
>>period after ANQRWPOIS, the whole verse reads:
>>Is there some other way of dealing with this reading?
>>construed as part of the following speech of Peter
>>when the words are in this order?
>The reading in D is
> It is necessary to obey God. . .
>isn't it? If D has PEIQARCEIN DE QEO. . . as you have it written above, it
>is a really strange reading.
>At any rate, it should not be construed as part of the following speech of
>Peter if Ropes' puntuation is right. If you are correct about the clause
>order (I don't have access to the text of D right now), then the reading in
>D has the priest implying (or treating as a given) that Peter's words come
>from man (Jesus), not from God. He is trying to silence Peter by warning
>him, 'We must obey God rather than obeying [this] man [Jesus].' The
>assumption behind his statement is that he IS obeying God, while Peter is
>obeying Jesus.
>It seems very odd to me that NA27 does not list this variant reading.

Very interesting! I don't know whether Clayton really miscited the text of
D or just is not following our conventional transliteration whereby we
distinguish eta and epsilon, omicron and omega, and mark the iota subscript
by a lower-case I. But Micheal is certainly right: with DEI following
PEIQARCEIN (NOT DE), the statement is attributed to the priests.

One of the imponderable questions (the sort I tend to ponder over perhaps
too much!) is the contextual similarity between this scene and statement
and Plato's representation of Socrates before the Athenian jury in the
_Apology_. While I don't have Plato's text ready to hand, I've always had a
suspicion that Luke in Acts writes this scene under discussion by no means
in ignorance of the way Plato has Socrates say that even if the Athenians
should acquit him of "impiety" if he will simply abandon what he calls his
"service to Apollo," he will obey TWi QEWi MALLON H hUMIN. I'm not arguing
for or against any possibility that Luke INVENTED Peter's response to the
Sanhedrin, only that he probably had in mind the parallel with that most
celebrated confrontation of Socrates with an Athenian jury in its most
celebrated literary formulation. Although this does not definitively settle
the question of the difference between Codex Bezae and the MS tradition
accepted by the editorial committee of NA27 (and UBS 3 and 4), it does
strengthen, in my opinion, the probability that these words should be
attributed to the apostles, not to the priests.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics/Washington University
One Brookings Drive/St. Louis, MO, USA 63130/(314) 935-4018
Summer: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(704) 675-4243

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