Jan 28, 2009 David Lang

P46 in Parallel

Yesterday, Peter Head of the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog discussed an intriguing textual variant at Philippians 1:11. A single Greek witness, P46, reads "to the glory of God and approval for me" instead of "to the glory and praise of God." Head explains that this reading should be understood as "eschatological" rather than "egotistical" and weighs whether it could really be the "original/Pauline reading."

After reading that post, I switched to Accordance and looked up Philippians 1:11 in the tagged Greek New Testament (GNT-T). Then I remembered that I could also view the reading in P46, thanks to our recent release of the tagged GNT Papyri based on the second edition of Comfort and Barrett. So I opened the GNTPAP-C text (that's Greek New Testament Papyri in Canonical order) in parallel. Just for good measure, I also added Codex Vaticanus. Here's what it looked like:

���Textual Variant at Philippians 1:11.jpg (xl, l, m, s)

If we assume for a moment that P46 is the original reading, I wondered how someone might accidentally replace emoi ("for me") with theou ("of God"), since in standard Greek script the two words look nothing alike. (By the way, what do you call the Greek script we typically use today? It's a form of miniscule Greek, but with capitals and accents and all kinds of conventions that were unknown in ancient times. Is there a name for it?) By comparing P46 and Vaticanus, I could see how in uncial script emoi and theou (which is written as a nomina sacra) look much more alike and might be confused by a scribe.

Then I looked at the text more closely, and realized that this is not a case of one word being replaced by another. Theou still appears in P46 just as it does in Vaticanus, but the word order has changed and emoi has been added (or removed if P46 represents the original reading). It would appear therefore that whatever the transmission history of this particular variant, it represents a somewhat deliberate change rather than a purely accidental one.

At this point, knowledgeable text critics are probably cringing at my amateurish analysis of this variant. I'm admittedly in way over my head here, pontificating about things I know little about (in much the same way as the "Strongnostics" I've recently been criticizing). At any rate, I hope you can see how helpful it is to be able to compare grammatically tagged editions of the Greek papyri with the critical Greek text and various major codices.

For more on our GNT Papyri modules, be sure to check out this blog post by Rick Bennett. (Rick actually knows what he's talking about!)

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