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Neues Testament


Pardee, Cambry G.


Scribal Harmonization in the Synoptic Gospels.


Leiden u. a.: Brill 2019. XIV, 494 S. = New Testament Tools, Studies and Documents, 60. Geb. EUR 160,00. ISBN 978-90-04-39180-2.


J. K. Elliott

The Belgian scholar, Joël Delobel regularly argued that the textual criticism of the Gospels and the Synoptic Problem needed to be studied simultaneously. Similarly, and more recently, when the directors of the University of Münster’s Institut für neutestamentliche Textforschung published their volume, Parallelenperikopen, in 2011 with its invaluable Appendix I »Auf Parallelstelleneinfluss zurückführbare Varianten«, it was in preparation for the, eventual, forthcoming volumes of ECM on each of the separate synoptic Gospels.
Other guides to parallels may be seen, not least in published editions of the Gospels in Greek, which often show readings in certain manuscripts, e. g. those edited by Reuben Swanson, Jenny Read-Heimerdinger with Josep Rius-Camps and in the synopses edited by Bernard Orchard, Heinrich Greeven, and by Kurt Aland etc. Cambry G. Pardee uses several 19th–20th century editions of the Greek New Testament (e. g. NA28, UBS4 [not UBS5!] etc.) but I wonder why Vogels’, von Soden’s and Bover’s editions are in absentia.
P.’s work includes very few verses that parallel the Münster Institut’s fourteen samples; rather, he looks closely at all the early manuscripts that contain parts of or the whole of the three synoptic Gospels. These are given a chapter apiece under their conventi-onally accepted datings. Thus we have here: Fragments from the 2nd and 3rd centuries; extensive manuscripts from the 3rd century; fragments from the 4th century and two chapters apiece on Codex Vaticanus and then on Codex Sinaiticus.
As far as the extant Greek witnesses to Matthew, Mark and Luke are concerned, many of the earliest manuscripts which have been dated to the 2nd, 3rd or 4th centuries are very fragmentary and we just do not know the extent of their original text. Most now contain only one Gospel, although 0171 and P75 today contain two (Mt-Lk and Lk-Jn respectively); P45 contains all four Gospels. P. observes that if any variants in these fragmented texts agree with another Gospel, even where the witness now has only one of the Gospels, he records all potentially harmonizing variants in them. Of course, P. cannot assume that the parallel ever had that reading.
In the famous Greek Bibles (Old and New Testaments), especially the Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, all have the three synoptic Gospels in their entirety. Possibly the rarity of many complete copies of the New Testament (and indeed the Old Testament as well), huge in format and unwieldy to carry around in church, was obviously a sign that these books were never intended for public reading or private devotion, unlike many other manuscripts which were originally intended to be used for such purposes. The mammoth editions were written when Byzantium’s ecclesiastical powers had emerged to define the extent of Christianity’s scrip-tures. An instruction to do so may even have emanated from Emperor Constantine himself as some scholars, e. g. the famous papyrologist and librarian, T. C. Skeat, were wont to publicize.
Harmonizing variants may obviously involve not just substi-tuted words but longer or shorter readings. P., wisely, tells us (at the opening of his chapter 7) that harmonization originally was a result not an intention on the part of copyists. However, many changes would have been due to a scribe’s familiarity with another Gospel (not necessarily always Matthew’s).
Nevertheless, once the four-fold Gospel canon began to emerge (say, by the end of the 2nd century) then differences between texts could cause disquiet among the faithful, for whom deviations, inconsistencies and errata would be troublesome. Hence the need to alter one or more text to ensure that all parallels were brought into agreement, especially in the cases of Jesus’ ipsissima verba. His instructions had to be made identical and that must have involved deliberate change.
My rule of thumb has been to pronounce that textual variants which make parallels dissimilar are likely to be the original read-ings, especially in Matthew. Mark or Luke. Deliberate changes by a scribe and/or the community of believers instructing him, lambently reflect a later movement to remove the more conspicuous differences between them. I add the phrase »… other things being equal« to cover places where an otherwise potentially original variant has language alien to the author to which the scribe attributes the reading, P. here, wisely, rates each such harmonization by stating if the variant is ›L‹ (likely), ›U‹ (unlikely), ›VL‹ (= very likely, using here, oddly, small capitals), ›P‹ (= possible) or ›AbC‹ (= all but certain!). These abbreviations appear on p. 42 only but they are missing from the list of Abbreviations (XIII–XIV). I note also that S (= a singular reading), S-s (a sub-singular reading; here the abbrevia-tion should, logically, have been s-S), Unc (= uncommon, and not, as certain readers may assume it to mean, »Uncials« i. e. majuscule manuscripts, given the context). Likewise Lac, Crctr (as well as Cor !) are not included in the table of Abbreviations.
The book ends with an extensive bibliography and four relatively complete indexes. The Index of Authors could have added to my entry another reference: 217 n5. More titles by Christfried Böttrich on Sinaiticus may have been useful. Similarly Stanley Porter’s monograph on Tischendorf, published in 2015, could also appear here, despite its hagiographical tone. Comfort’s (and Barrett’s) work on the text (2001) is to the fore in P.’s discussions, despite their often questionable workmanship. On pp. 281 and 475 read Porfiri and Uspensky.
In a work with so many complexities, the number of typographical and other slips is pleasantly small. The following may easily be seen as minutiae, unlikely to confuse readers. We need to note that Von (sic) Dobschütz and Von (sic) Soden are indexed under ›V‹, as too is Van Haelst but such a convention has been abandoned with von Tischendorf (see under ›T‹). On p. 441 read Miscel.lania for a title in Catalan. Jan Merell and Jean Merell in the Bibliography and the index are the same person. On pp. 221, 223, 385 and passim minuscules (cursive mss.) are called miniscules! On p. 73 read Sanders’ (with the apostrophe to follow the final letter).
The book may be seen as an expanded textual commentary on the three synoptic Gospels comparable to the one written by B. M. Metzger. P. spends a paragraph or more on the nature of the allegedly harmonizing variants (e. g. 339–367, as he does on the other manuscripts included here). These, together with his rating letters, U, P etc., are in effect the ›art‹ as opposed to the objective ›scientific‹ presentation of the manuscripts and their readings. Inevitably, it is the ›art‹ that may create further discussions and disagreements be-tween the author and his readers. But these discussions offer much-needed food for thought, and we commend P. for his clarity of presentation, his caution and his often wise judgement.