This blog, by Richard Fellows, discusses historical questions concerning Paul's letters, his co-workers, Acts, and chronology.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

The insertion of 1 Cor 14:34-35 and Rom 15-16 into the western manuscripts

1 Cor 14:34-35 reads,


Women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.


Many consider these verses to be an interpolation, in part because they appear after verse 40 in the western Greek-Latin diglot manuscripts of Paul’s letters, D F G (and in 88*). These diglots had a (now lost) common ancestor, known as Z.


Did Z simply move 14:34-35 from after verse 33 to after verse 40? If so, the variation in the location of the verses provides no evidence that they are inauthentic. Alternatively, perhaps the disputed verses were originally absent and were imported into Z from another manuscript. If so, we have strong evidence that they were interpolated into 1 Corinthians by an early editor. The verses could then have spread until they had infected all surviving manuscripts, because copyists had a tendency to include text when in doubt.


To decide between these two views we must look at the editorial tendencies of Z. Kloha (pages 547-555) has drawn our attention to the textual variants that involve sizable chunks of text in D F G. He finds three transpositions, which are shown in the table. They occur in almost the exact same manuscripts as those that relocate 1 Cor 14:34-35, so plausibly happened at the same time.



The words “and the church in their house” are moved from Rom 16:5 to Rom 16:3, perhaps to connect them more closely with their verb (greet) and their referent, Prisca and Aquila. Perhaps there was a sexist motivation, for the transposition gives Paul’s high praise in Rom 16:4 to the church, rather than to Prisca herself.


Paul sends greetings from “all the churches of Christ” at Rom 16:16b, but the greetings from others do not occur until Rom 16:21-23. Z has Rom 16:16b transposed to 16:21, perhaps just to place all these greetings together.


In Z the benediction of Rom 16:20 occurs instead at the end of the letter, where it obviously fits well.


For Kloha, this transposing tendency means that we have no evidence here that a text lacked 1 Cor 14:34-35, and this convinced me for a while.


However, all three of these transpositions are in Romans 16, which, along with Romans 15, was absent from the ancestral line of D F G before these two chapters were added (together or one at a time). See Gamble pages 15-33. The transposing tendency belonged not to a copyist of the entire text, but to someone who edited the manuscript using text from another manuscript. Clause-length transpositions occurred in Z (or a predecessor) only in text that was added from another manuscript. Therefore 1 Cor 14:34-35 was absent from the manuscript and was added, along with Rom 16, by an editor with a tendency to transpose. Thus he inserted the two verses in the new location, perhaps to avoid disrupting Paul’s smooth discussion of prophecy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Mariam became Maria and, with that name, was Luke’s source for the infancy narrative

The name Mary in New Testament manuscripts appears sometimes in its Semitic form, Μαριαμ, and sometimes in its Greek forms: Μαρια (nominative and dative), Μαριαν (accusative), and Μαριας (genitive). Whenever it is in the genitive case it is written as Μαριας.(1) Peter Williams explains this as a form to be used suppletively alongside the Semitic Μαριαμ in the other cases. The mentions of the name of Mary, mother of Jesus, in the earliest manuscripts are shown in the table below. The use of the Greek forms of the name in codex Bezae (D05), are also explicable, since this manuscript has an anti-Semitic bias, including in its text of Luke.(2) D switches to the Greek form of the name at Luke 1:30, presumably because a scribe did not want a Semitic Mary to have “found favor with God”.


 At Luke 2:19 and Acts 1:14 the manuscripts are evenly divided between the Greek and Semitic forms.(3) It is unlikely that scribes would change Μαριαμ to Μαρια at these verses. Having transcribed her name successfully as Μαριαμ many times, why would a scribe switch to Μαρια at these points? If, on the other hand, Luke wrote Μαρια at these two spots, then scribes might change it to Μαριαμ to make it consistent with the form of the name already used several times for Mary. Let us now consider why Luke may have chosen to write Μαρια at Acts 1:14 and Luke 2:19, and only there.


Acts 1:14 mentions Mary’s presence in Jerusalem, and John 19:27 implies that she became a resident of Jerusalem. The gospel spread to many Greek speakers in Jerusalem and beyond, and they may have known Mary as Μαρια. We should therefore not be surprised that Luke’s last mention of Mary refers to her by this later form of her name.


Luke 2:19, like Acts 1:14, refers to her as Μαρια, suggesting that Luke has the later time in view here too.


Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them.(4)


Therefore, it seems to me that Luke has in mind not only the earlier time of Jesus’s birth, but also the much later time when Mary recalled what she had remembered, and when she was known as Μαρια, at least to Greek-speakers such as Luke. He seems to be citing Mary as his source for his birth narrative.

Luke, like other ancient writers, often refers to the same person by different names according to context. Consider Saul-Paul, John-Mark, BarJesus-Elymas, Jason-Aristarchus, and Crispus-Sosthenes.(5) A good parallel to Μαριαμ-Μαρια in Luke-Acts, is the case of Simon-Simeon. Luke gives him his Greek name form, Simon, at Luke 4:38, 38; 5:3, 4, 5, 810, 10; 6:14; 21:31, 31; 24:34; Acts 10:5, 18, 32; 11:13, but he gives him his Semitic name form, Simeon, appropriately, at Acts 15:14.



(1)  Not only for the mother of Jesus, but also for Martha’s sister (John 11:1) and Mark’s mother (Acts 12:12).

(2)  See Jason Robert Combs, “The Polemical Origin of Luke 6:5D: Dating Codex Bezae’s Sabbath-Worker Agraphon” JSNT (2019) 162-184.

(3)  At Luke 2:19 NA28 cites Μαρια א* B D Θ 1241. 1424 sa bopt. Μαριαμ א2 A K L P W Γ Δ Ξ Ψ f1.13 33. 565.579. 700. 892. 2542 𝔐 syh bopt. While NA28 prefers Μαριαμ here, the SBL and Tyndale House versions have Μαρια. At Acts 1:14 NA28 cites Μαρια א A C D Ψ 33. 614. 1175. 1241. 1505. 1739s 𝔐. Μαριαμ 81. 323. 945. 1891.

(4)  Good News Translation. The NRSV, for example, says “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart”, but this is misleading, as the heart was considered the center of thought and feeling, rather than just the seat of emotion (BDAG).

(5)  For the identities or Aristarchus and Sosthenes, see my Tyndale Bulletin article here

See pages 263-4 of the same article for a discussion of name switching by ancient writers.