Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Matt. 12:46-48 - Classic Homoioteleuton

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In a lot of ways, Matthew 12:46-48 is a textbook case of homoioteleuton (accidental line skip from similar endings). The picture gives an example of how the text may have been laid out in the master-copy where the opportunity arose for error while copying this copy.

In this case, we have duplicated part of a column in the format typical of 4th century uncials such as Codex Vaticanus (B), with about 18-22 letters per line, and justified on both sides of the column.

Its easy to see how such errors can arise: The copyist finishes the first line ending in red; he is still looking at his own copy. He has in memory the line he has just copied, and now glances back to the master-copy (pictured here). He hunts for the line, by scanning down the right side for the last word he has just copied. He thinks he finds the line, but it is a similar line further down. Now his eye moves to the next line after the second instance, and he continues copying.

If the text still makes sense after the loss of the intervening text, this error will may not get corrected on a first pass. The corrector has the same problem as the copyist, that is, keeping track of lines in the master-copy as he glances back and forth to the copy during the check.

Typically, scribes skip text about 4 to 10 times as often as they accidentally duplicate text (copying it twice). But doubled lines are also easier to spot, and correct. One need only draw a line through the extra text. It will be immediately apparent to the next reader what happened.

Repairing an omission is much more difficult, as one may have to erase several columns and re-write them smaller to fit in the text, if not noticed early enough in the copying process.
There are several factors then that cause omissions to be perpetuated, while additions usually never make it past one generation of copies.

Often, there are several ways the text could have been laid out to create an easy opportunity for
homoioteleuton. In the following picture, the same error could have been made copying a 'wide margin' master-copy in the style of Codex W:

Essentially, any width of column where the intervening text forms some exact multiple of line numbers will cause the similar text to align. It doesn't even have to be at the end of the lines. The same error can arise (although perhaps less often from homoioarcton (skips from similar beginnings of lines).

Even a style like Codex Bezae, where the line endings are not right-justified, could still cause the same copying error:

Include Verse: א(corr.a) Θ Π 0112 0250
family 1, family 13, 28 33 565 700 892 1010 1071 1079 1195 1216 1230
1242 1253 1344 1365 1546 1646 2148 2174 Byz Maj (Majority of continuous MSS) lect.-333 it-a/aur/c/d/f/ff2/g1/h/l/q Vg Syr-P/H Cop-Bo Goth Arm Eth Geo
Diatessaron Origen Chrysostom

Omit: א* B L
1009 l12 it-ff1 Cop-Sa

For more textual information on this Variation Unit, click below:

Matthew 12:46-48 < - - Click here.


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