Some key components of a thorough examination here have been inadvertantly skipped.
Lets see if we can work them in:
(1) It is important to determine the probability as to whether it is an accidental variation, or a deliberate change. The reason is that certain “canons” (rules) of NT TC only apply to one type of Variation Unit (VU) or another. Without intelligent guidance, rules and “cases” can lead us astray. Thus we need “meta-rules” for the rules. One such “meta-rule” is to try to determine the basic category (Accident/Deliberate). On the one hand, accidents often leave naive evidence behind as to what happened, aiding in evaluating readings. On the other, deliberate changes can sometimes be explained, as you have above, treating this variant as a deliberate editing job.
In the above example, the problem is why or what occasioned the boldness of a copyist, or even an editor to dare to make the change? More is needed than just “perceived benefit”. A copyist must feel so compelled as to go against all his training and habit of accurate reproduction. Even an editor must feel a mandate or convincing authority to make a decision, like the choice between variants. The variants usually already have to be present. That one corrector chose one reading and another the opposite tells us nothing about how this likely scenario actually arose. It is perhaps less difficult for an editor to make a “conjectural emendation” but still very very difficult, when even a self-appointed mandate would normally be preservation of the original text.
The possible answer is ironically found in an ACCIDENTAL origin. suppose the original text was as you suggest:
(1) “γέγραπται ἐν τῷ Ἠσαΐᾳ τῷ προφήτῃ”
Sans the later breathings, accents, and punctuation, it would have actually looked more like this:
ΓΕΓΡΑΠΤΑΙ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΗΣΑΙΑ ΤΩ ΠΡΟΦΗΤΗ…
A clear homoioteleuton drop out waiting to happen. After sleepy copyist A, the text looks like this:
ΓΕΓΡΑΠΤΑΙ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΠΡΟΦΗΤΗ…
Now copyist B reads it and thinks: “The case is definitely wrong. It doesn’t even match!” He adjusts what looks like an illiterate scribe’s gaffe, and voila:
ΓΕΓΡΑΠΤΑΙ ΕΝ ΤΟΙΣ ΠΡΟΦΗΤΑΙΣ…
γέγραπται ἐν τοῖς προφήταις“
The initial mistake gave occasion for the editors to jump into action. Now both readings become entrenched, because they are both possible and credible.
Other missing considerations could be discussed also.
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