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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Persio-American War: the Contractors

One angle of this upcoming war I haven't mentioned is the role that so-called Defense Contractors play. As far back as 1961, President Eisenhower warned against the "Military-Industrial Complex." The Revolving Door practice, by which Defense Department jobs are filled with ex-Contractor employees, and ex-Defense Department workers pick up lush jobs at a Contractor, is well known. Thus it is inevitable that the Military-Industrial Complex will have a say in every war. And indeed, if it has any say it all, it will say that War is Good for Business.

I remember back in the late 1980's, when the veterans of America's last big war were starting to die off, and the veterans of America's last military conflict were starting to retire. There seemed to be no more role for the Army--all military engagements were being carried out by special forces, Marines, or the Navy. Pundits mused that the age of the large-scale battlefield was over. Then along came the invasion of Iraq, and once again the armies took to the field. Officers who had cut their teeth in Vietnam, serving under generals who had WWII experience, were now the generals. New Officers were earning the Combat Badges they would need to compete for promotion. The cycle of war, which ensures that everyone will have the chance to see combat at least once in a military career, came back around despite the Pundits' musings.

That was 20 years ago. For two decades, American forces have been facing hostile fire in one theater or another. Although downsized after the Cold War, the Standing Army has not gone away altogether. But since the conquest of Iraq in 2003, there has been no all-out war to put a large army to use. Worse yet, there has been no all-out war to put to use the hugely expensive armaments put out by the Military-Industrial Complex.

What America needs, it seems, is a war that will make full use of its Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. There hasn't been one now for 65 years--nearly a mortal lifetime. With the Cold War over, it's hard to justify the submarines, the supersonic fighters, the nuclear bombers--the ballistic missiles. But the Military-Industrial Complex is quite eager to justify them, because even if they aren't its bread and butter, they come very close to its bottom line.

A war with Iran would mean lots of business for the Military-Industrial Complex. As opposed as President Obama is to war, Contractors will eventually pressure him to change his mind. But I don't see this happening real soon. America is not likely to initiate a war against Iran without proof that it has already developed an atomic weapon. Since this is likely to happen within a year, even by the US Government's admission, that provides a terminus ad quem for the start of the war: somewhere between the 21st anniversary of Operation Desert Shield and the 10th anniversary of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Monday, 30 August 2010

First shots already fired

Israel hasn't attacked Iran yet. Iran hasn't attacked Israel yet. But behind the scenes, both are feverishly preparing for war.

Having had little success in the helicopter-attack route, Israel is preparing to give over to the US the responsibility for taking out Iran's nuclear sites housed deep in caves. The US is moving missiles into position at the Talil Air Force Base in Iraq. Meanwhile, the Israeli submarine force has take up position in the Arabian Sea, also armed with missiles. The opening salvos of this war will likely be missiles fired in synchronization--whichever side uses them first will have the advantage. If Iran, several US warships are going to head for the bottom of the Persian Gulf. If the US and Israel, Iran's nuclear capability is going to be set back several years in just a few seconds.

This synchronization, as far as Israel is concerned, is coming at a price. Israel has agreed to let the US take the lead for now, given the at least half-hearted assurance that the US will not let Iran develop The Bomb. This means that an Israeli first strike in the next few weeks or even months is increasingly unlikely--especially as the US takes a more and more belligerent stance itself.

Iran, on the other hand, has already taken the lead in moving ahead, and Syria is stepping up to follow. Syria, the last big holdout in making peace with Israel, is getting prepared to open up a northern front in Galilee as soon as hostilities break out. In a sense, the first shots have already been fired: An Israeli spy drone was recently shot down over Syria.

Meanwhile, Hamas is gearing up for a major offensive beginning this week, regardless of what happens between Israel and Iran.

And don't forget the Yemeni front: Iran is backing the Shia rebels in that country. How much of a role they will be able to play in throwing a monkey wrench into the works remains to be seen, but it's in Iran's interests to be able to close off both the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf to oil tankers.

And what the Iranian Navy most hopes to block these straits with are the sunken hulks of US warships. Their new missile boats are now deployed and able to swim circles around a destroyer or cruiser. All it takes is multiple missiles fired in sync to defeat the US Close-in Weapons System missile defense.

Although they are more ready now than their adversaries, time is still on Iran's side. While the US drags its feet, every day puts Iran closer to having one or two operational A-bombs. But neither side is quite ready to start the shooting. It looks like it's going to come down to whomever's ready first.

I'm glad I bought 30 gallons of gas before the price went up 20¢, but it's headed a whole lot higher. And there will soon be another Gulf Oil Spill to worry about.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

1 Corinthians 14:34-35: an interpolation? Part VII, So What?

We have looked both at the manuscript evidence and the record of church history in order to answer the question,
Is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 an interpolation?
The apparent answer, in both cases, is No.

But does it really make any difference?

It didn't made any difference 1800 years ago when Tertullian first quoted this passage. Even then, heretics were going ahead and ordaining woman preachers, maugre 1 Corinthians 14 and maugre 1 Timothy 2. And so they continue to do to this day. 1 Timothy 2:11-15 is sufficient to keep women from serving as bishops, so shepherdess-ordainers who accept it as Scripture must weasel their way out of its prohibitions, regardless of what they think of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.

But how about those who hold to the traditional interpretation and application of 1 Timothy 2--does it make any difference to them if 1 Cor 14:34-35 is really Scripture or not? For most such people, it really doesn't. They accept 1 Timothy 2 and apply it as if 1 Cor 14 never existed. Certain it is that their women would consider it no sin to whisper a question to their husbands, nor a command to their children, while sitting in the assembly. I know of some women who actually come close to literally applying this passage--but even they speak freely during the church service, provided they're in the sheltered confines of the church nursery. And even in the auditorium, they think nothing of lifting up their voices in song along with the rest of the congregation. For all practical purposes, most Christians live as though 14:34-35 were a marginal note in Paul's autograph of his first letter to the Corinthians that was removed once it was joined to 2 Timothy in a single volume.

Does it make any difference to anybody whether or not 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is removed from the English Bible? As one who believes in both the divine inspiration and profitable applicability of every word of Scripture, I maintain that it does.

Post-Reformation Christians are known for rejecting all the books of Maccabees--yeah, the Apocrypha entire--on the basis of one verse, 2 Maccabees 12:44--
For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead.
Prayer for the dead--heresy! Therefore the Apocrypha cannot be inspired Scripture. It's a massive interpolation, as it were, wedged in between the Testaments.

There are some problems with this view. First of all, what Paul wrote in the very next chapter after the famous passage under review differs very little. 1 Cor. 15:29--
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
So far all the manuscripts agree. And the church fathers, who were so unanimous in accepting 1 Cor. 14:34-35 as Scripture? Well, they were just as lief to look to the currently rejected books for answers on this topic as to those universally considered canonical.

Ambrose, for example, had all 14 chapters in his copy of Daniel--and he specifically called 'scripture' those parts now rejected. In deciding what the Bible teaches about the afterlife, he turned to 4 Esdras, an apocryphal book that Jerome included in the Vulgate, but which never even existed in the Septuagint. And the story of Susanna in the apocryphal section of Daniel was the source of a lot of controversy. Julius Africanus denied its canonicity on the basis that Daniel could not possibly have written it; Origen, in response, defended it as inspired Scripture whose origin was just hard to explain. Furthermore, he was convinced that the reason it wasn't in any Hebrew copies was that the Hebrew elders had deliberately taken it out--the very sort of argument advanced by those who now defend Acts 8:37 as inspired, preserved Scripture.

So what are we to do? If 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 isn't an interpolation, then how do we know that The Story of Susanna isn't either? On what grounds do we reject IV Esdras and 2 Maccabees? Whatever we find universally present in the earliest Greek manuscripts, and universally accepted by the patristic writers, is immune from rejection as canonical--or so the theory goes, but only for the New Testament.

Leading the Post-Reformation Christians, Luther referred to the apocryphal sections of the Old Testament as 'wildflowers' that needed to be uprooted from the canon and transplanted in a special garden adjacent, so as to be of benefit to the reader, but not to serve as a final appeal to authority. And thus the Apocrypha continued to be translated, along with the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek Scriptures, all the way up to their revision for publication in the King James Bible of 1611. And how were the Apocryphal scriptures distinguished from the sacred canon? Well, the litmus test was whether or not they were included in the Hebrew Bible.

And thus it is to this day. On the sole basis of its inclusion in the Hebrew Bible, 1 Samuel 13:1 escapes condemnation as an interpolation. Better to wrest it all out of its true shape than to admit it was never in the original text. But why? Would it not be better by far to be guided by common sense as well as rabbinical tradition? If its absence in multiple Greek copies was finally enough to banish the 'na' of Manasseh to the margin, what forbids us from using the same rationale to remove an attempted Who's Who on the Israeli Throne entry for King Saul?

It's high time that Bible translators started practicing their textual criticism on a level field of play. What's good in the New Testament ought to be good enough in the Old. If it took great caution to follow the minority reading of Codex Alexandrinus at Judges 18:30, where was that caution at Revelation 5:9? If the Masoretic Text was so wrong in omitting Joshua 21:36-37, how could it be so right in adding 1 Samuel 13:1?

It appears (e.g. in the TNIV) that Bible Translators have already begun the process of moving 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 to the bottom margin, where it will join the nun in Judges 18:30. Let them do so--what difference, after all, does it make for most anyone who reads it? But while they're at it, there are a whole lot of verses in the Old Testament far more deserving of the same treatment.

Is or is not 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 an interpolation? There is yet one hypothesis which I haven't yet brought forward, which answers the question with a resounding YES.

Remember this hypothesis?

1. After having penned First Corinthians, Paul went back over it and added this comment as an explanatory note in the margin--much as do people today who pen letters on lined paper. When Paul's Epistles were collected into a single book, the marginal note was left out.

Well, it's wrong on two counts.

In the first place, Paul didn't pen the letter, he only signed it:
The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand. --16:21
And, Paul would no more have included such an audacious passage in his margin than in his text.

We don't know who wrote the letter for Paul, but it seems to have been his co-author Sosthenes. The only other mention of Sosthenes in the Bible is in Acts 18:17, where he is mentioned as the ruler of the Corinthian synagogue who got beat up in court--literally. Aha, obviously Sosthenes is now traveling with Paul as a fellow missionary, and Paul has enrolled his help in sending a letter back home. The letter had already gone overlong, so there wasn't any room for individual greetings (on this web page, Rendel Harris provides evidence that all of the epistles ended "at the bottom of the page"; this accounts for the somewhat "oh, and one more thing--and another--and one more" nature of some epistles)*. Sosthenes, however, was able to fit in one personal message--but he had to put it in the margin of ch. 14. For an example of this sort of thing, observe this postscript to Origin's letter to Julius Africanus, referenced above:
My lord and dear brother Ambrosius, who has written this at my dictation, and has, in looking over it, corrected as he pleased, salutes you. His faithful spouse, Marcella, and her children, also salute you. Also Anicetus. Do you salute our dear father Apollinarius, and all our friends.
Sosthenes, remember, is a former synagogue ruler. He knows the teachings of the rabbis about the need for silent women. He was used to them being excluded from the life of the synagogue. He fondly remembers how much more orderly things were back in the day, before his parishioners found liberty in Christ. So, as co-author, he feels quite free to go back over the letter after Paul is done dictating it, and adds a few choice comments in the margin. Off goes the letter to Corinth, and the church listens with stunned silence as it is read to them. They go to work implementing the commands in the letter, and the congregation becomes much more orderly as a result.

At this point we hear no more of Sosthenes. Apparently he went back to Corinth and helped implement what Paul and he had commanded in the letter.

Comes news back to Paul, and he realizes that they were over-reacting to his epistle in some areas, and under-reacting in others. He writes back that they should receive back the repentant member, but stop being yoked with unbelievers. He rebukes them for scoffing at the requirements in his letters, and reminds them that he really does mean what he wrote. He hurriedly wraps up this second letter--another one of record length--mentioning his intention to clear up the rest of the problems when he gets there himself. But before he can, the record ends--we hear no more of the Corinthian church from the pages of Scripture.

Why then, despite the virtually unanimous external evidence, do I reject 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 as Scripture? Well, because I subject it to the same test by which I reject any apocryphal passage, maugre the manuscripts, maugre the church fathers: it doesn't fit with the general teachings of the rest of the Bible, and the rest of the Bible is better off without it. Let's look at a few points:

1) It claims to be quoting the law, but nowhere in prior Scripture is there any mention that women have to be under submission in a way that forbids them speaking in an assembly. One has to look to the Talmud for such a teaching, and the Talmud has no place in the Christian canon.

2) It makes something shameful that is not shameful. What could possibly be shameful about women singing the ladies' parts of a congregational song? How can it not be shameful for a woman to compose a song (careful here--several such are in the canon), but shameful for a woman to sing it in front of anyone? Absolute silence mandated upon all Christian women is totally foreign to Paul's Corinthian depiction of the body of Christ, where every part plays a vital role. It doesn't even fit the teaching of the chapter it is in, where both men and women are to sit in silence until the person who has something to say is done speaking.

3) It puts a ridiculous demand on women. How is a woman to pray, or ask for prayer, without speaking out in the assembly? How is she to play the catechumen at the baptismal font, without confessing with her mouth? And what of the widows, who have no husband to ask at home? What about Lydia of Philippi, who, possibly along with Nympha of Colosse, is the spiritual leader of her home? What of Priscilla, whose husband may well have questions to ask of her? There is nothing of divine inspiration here-; nothing of practical applicability. To find anything of either, we must wrest it like the Masoretes wrested 1 Samuel 13:1, to the point where we may as well have dispensed with it entirely. Women can no more fulfill what these verses demand than men or women can keep all of what Paul elsewhere darkly refers to as 'the law'. Whoever penned these verses fits the grim profile of those of whom Paul warned Timothy only a chapter earlier than his only other mention of the silence of women:
Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.
So, I read 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 as apocrypha: not as the canonical teaching of Paul, but as the misguided instructions of a neophyte that, like other uninspired, apocryphal writings, was universally accepted as authoritative by the early church.

Let those who argue for the canonicity of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 continue to read it in their Bibles. But I dare them to actually try applying it. And while they are at it, they may as well take up praying for the dead.

Now, what became of Sosthenes' marginal note in Paul's letter? Well, he probably saw to it that it was always included in copies of the letter that were made available to other churches. It's a wonder if any copies at all emerged without it, and scribes who passed on the copies of the autograph dutifully included it--some moving it out of the margin into one spot, some into another--but evidence, however tangential, has nonetheless come down through the centuries of an awareness that 14:34-35 did not represent the teaching of Paul in his First Epistle to the Corinthians. An awareness I hope will increase, so that those of us who believe and apply 1 Timothy 2:11-12 don't overshoot the mark by clumsily trying to believe and apply 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 as well.

*Nowadays, we purchase legal pads or spiral bound notebooks in which to pen our thoughts. Back in the Apostle's day, what they used were rolls of papyrus. Rather than tearing a sheet off the pad or out of the notebook, the author used a knife to cut off the written-on papyrus and roll it up into a scroll of its own. Thus it was most economical of space to end an epistle at the bottom of a column--or what we would think of now as the end of a page. Since scrolls were typically only written on the inside surface, that left the outer surface for addresses, delivery instructions, and, later on, a summary of the contents for ease of identification by the owner. The scroll would then be sealed shut with wax to keep it from being read until it was delivered.


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Part VI, The Answers: The Patristic Evidence (in the series: Is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 an interpolation?)


Given that at least identifiable fragments of this passage are present in the text of two early papyrus manuscripts, and that it's even present in both the favoured mss of Westcott and Hort--which leave out hundreds of phrases, whole verses, and passages of several verses--it's extremely difficult for anyone to imagine how it could have originally been absent from the text of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. And yet this very notion is a growing belief among textual critics: that a church which had grown and flourished for over a century would gradually accept such a tradition-altering passage into their Bibles.

Anyone who hypothesises that this passage is an interpolation has to account for two things: firstly, how it got into the text following verse 33, and secondly, how it got into the text following verse 40. These are two separate processes, which are typically joined to the single hypothesis that it started out as a marginal note. Depending on when they believe the note was first penned, additional hypotheses will be needed to explain why, when the note left the margin, it found its way into the text of every single surviving copy.

Given the textual and historical evidence, there are at least three possible theories to account for the presence of this passage as interpolated into the text of First Corinthians chapter 14:

1. After having penned First Corinthians, Paul went back over it and added this comment as an explanatory note in the margin--much as do people today who pen letters on lined paper. When Paul's Epistles were collected into a single book, the marginal note was left out, perhaps because the same ground was already covered by 1 Timothy 2:12. This archetype was the source of the hypothesized manuscripts that didn't contain the passage, including those read by the long list of early patristic writers who don't appear to have commented on it. From the autograph, some copies got the note inserted into the text after v. 33, from which descended all but 3 extant Greek copies, and some got the note inserted after v. 40, from which descended most of the Latin copies and GA-915. Any other copies made directly from the autograph have gone extinct, although a slight trace remains in the text of Greek minuscule 88 and the margins of Codex Vaticanus and the Latin Codex Fuldensis.

2. The editor who compiled Paul's epistles into the archetype of the non-Latin manuscripts added the interpolation, probably first as a marginal note to synchronise 1 Corinthians 14 with 1 Timothy 2. Some subsequent copyists moved the marginal note into the text of the manuscript from which descended most copies extant today. Another editor moved it into the text of the archetype of the Latin family of manuscripts, but at a location slightly farther down the page. At least one Greek manuscript, along with one Latin manuscript, was copied from an exemplar that lacked the note in the text: once with the shortened version in the text, the other with it in the margin.

3. The interpolation began as a marginal note in a Latin manuscript, and was subsequently translated into Greek for the Greek side of several different diglots--resulting in the variety of readings. It was separately moved into the text in the Latin stream following v. 40, and in the Greek stream following v. 33. Although widely used by Christians in the late second century, manuscripts without the interpolation were suppressed and eliminated from the transmission stream by church leaders who felt a need to keep women in their place. Part of this process was the destruction of all manuscripts that had the note from the margin but not in the text.

All of these theories have serious problems. The main problem is that of all the controversial passages we've studied--in which some Greek manuscripts contain them and some omit them--we can go back to the patristic writers and see signs of the same controversy raging as far back in history as our oldest collection of the entire New Testament reaches--around the dawn of the 5th century. Any writer who advocated inclusion of one of these passages would nonetheless concede that many scribes left it out. But when we look for a textual discussion of this passage, we find it entirely wanting, though we find at least ten citations of it in the patristic writings, from Origen to Augustine. What we find instead is that every writer either failed to take note of this prohibition, or cited it as being fully authoritative Scripture, whether he was able to easily make sense of it or not.

Tertullian, writing sometime around the turn of the 3rd century, referred to this passage in the context of expounding on First Corinthians 11-14. Although clearly uncomfortable with it, he nonetheless feels duty bound to quote it as Scripture.

Against Marcion Book 5 Chapter 8:
on the subject of the superiority of love above all these gifts, He even taught the apostle that it was the chief commandment, just as Christ has shown it to be: “Thou shalt love the Lord with all thine heart and soul, with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thine own self.” When he mentions the fact that “it is written in the law,” how that the Creator would speak with other tongues and other lips [v.21], whilst confirming indeed the gift of tongues by such a mention, he yet cannot be thought to have affirmed that the gift was that of another god by his reference to the Creator’s prediction. In precisely the same manner, when enjoining on women silence in the church [v.34a], that they speak not for the mere sake of learning [v.35a] (although that even they have the right of prophesying, he has already shown when he covers the woman that prophesies with a veil [ch. 11]), he goes to the law for his sanction that woman should be under obedience [v.34b]. Now this law, let me say once for all, he ought to have made no other acquaintance with, than to destroy it. But that we may now leave the subject. . .
It's apparent that knowledge of this passage coloured his interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12, to which he appears to allude in chapter 9 of On the Veiling of Virgins:
It is not permitted to the woman to speak in the church, nor to teach, to baptize, to present, nor to pretend to any kind of function reserved to man, to say nothing of the priesthood.
In On Baptism 15.17, he joins the prohibitions against speaking out and leading in a single paragraph:
For how credible would it seem, that he who has not permitted a woman even to learn with over-boldness, should give a female the power of teaching and of baptizing! "Let them be silent [v.34a]," he says, "and at home consult their own husbands [v.35a]."
Writing a few decades after Tertullian, Cyprian quoted the two passages together in his Testimonies, leaving out the awkward latter parts of verses 34 and 35:
In the first Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians: “Let women be silent in the church [v.34a]. But if any wish to learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home [v.35a].” Also to Timothy: “Let a woman learn with silence, in all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to be set over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not seduced, but the woman was seduced [1 Timothy 2:11-14].”
Origen, at about the same time, wrote a commentary on this passage, affirming the need for women--even prophetesses--to keep silent in the assembly, contra the Montanists, of whom Tertullian himself was one for part of his career.
Everyone speaks or would be able to speak, if he receives a revelation, except women who should remain silent in the church, the Apostle says [v.34a].
Had there been any textual question on the validity of this passage, it would have been very characteristic of him to affirm that it was present in the best manuscripts. He didn't even so much at hint, however, that it was absent from any.

So it really doesn't matter whether the early church leaders were reading this passage after v. 33 of 1 Corinthians 14, or after v. 40. Either way, they read it as Scripture, even if embarrassment over certain of its wording kept them from quoting it in full.

And less we think that the Bibles of any of these patristic writers lacked these embarrassing sections, we have the testimony of a fourth-century Latin known as Ambrosiaster, in his magnum opus Commentaries on Paul:
Because sin began with her, she must wear this sign [ch.11]; as she may not let her head remain uncovered in the church out of reverence for the bishop, so too she should have no power to speak; for the bishop assumes the place of Christ . . . . Now he states that which he passed over, when he commanded that the women should veil themselves in the congregational assembly [ch. 11]; now he shows that she should be silent and reticent. . . . For if the man is the image of God but the woman is not, she is on the basis of the law of nature subordinate to him [v.34b]. How much more must she be subordinate in the church on account of the reverence for him who is the ambassador of him who is also the head of the man: For they are not allowed to speak, but must be silent, even the law says[v. 34b]. What does the law say? "You should turn to your husband, he will rule over you." This is a special law; because of it Sarah called her husband Abraham "Lord," and because of it they should be silent. . . . If she also is one flesh, she should, moreover, be subordinate for two reasons: first because she came from the man, and then because through her sin came. . . . "For it is shameful for women to speak in church [v. 35b]." It is shameful because it is contrary to discipline that in the house of God, who has commanded that they be subordinate to their husbands, they should presume to speak on the law . . . . But as the heretics appear to base their reasoning on the words rather than on the meaning of the law, the words of the apostle strive against the meaning of the apostle; thus, although he commands that woman shall be silent in the church, they on the contrary claim for her an authority of ministry in the church.
Again, it isn't apparent where in his copy of 1 Corinthians that this author found the passage in question. Given that he was a Latin, it almost certainly had to be at the end of chapter 14, but he considers it more in the context of chapter 11, or even 1 Timothy 2, than of chapter 14 of First Corinthians.

Ambrose, the 4th-century Bishop of Milan, tied the silence of women into the paradox that news of the resurrection was first given to women to pass on to the apostles:
And if she is also still not a witness of perfect faith, she is nevertheless sent as a messenger to the disciples. Nevertheless she is forbidden to touch Jesus because she had not yet comprehended, as Paul had, that in Jesus the fullness of divinity dwelled incarnate. . . . What does it mean: don’t touch me? Do not lay hands on the greater, but go to my brothers, that is to the more perfect — for he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is brother, sister and mother to me. Because the resurrection can be comprehended only by the more perfect, the prerogative of this faith is also reserved for those who already have a more established position. I therefore do not permit the women to teach in the congregational assembly; they should ask their husbands at home[v.35a]. She is therefore sent to husbands and receives mandatory tasks.
One more patristic author must be quoted before we can fix the location of this passage in its exact context: Chrysostom, who wrote a commentary on First Corinthians in the latter part of the 4th century.
“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak [v.34a]; but let them be in subjection, as also says the law [v.34b].”

Having abated the disturbance both from the tongues and from the prophesyings; and having made a law to prevent confusion, that they who speak with tongues should do this in turn, and that they who prophesy should be silent when another begins; he next in course proceeds to the disorder which arose from the women, cutting off their unseasonable boldness of speech: and that very opportunely. For if to them that have the gifts it is not permitted to speak inconsiderately, nor when they will, and this, though they be moved by the Spirit; much less to those women who prate idly and to no purpose. Therefore he represses their babbling with much authority, and taking the law along with him, thus he sews up their mouths; not simply exhorting here or giving counsel, but even laying his commands on them vehemently, by the recitation of an ancient law on that subject. For having said, “Let your women keep silence in the churches;” and “it is not permitted unto them to speak, but let them be in subjection;” he added, “as also says the law.” And where does the law say this? “Your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you.”  Do you see the wisdom of Paul, what kind of testimony he adduced, one that not only enjoins on them silence, but silence too with fear; and with as great fear as that wherewith a maid servant ought to keep herself quiet. Wherefore also having himself said, “it is not permitted unto them to speak,” he added not, “but to be silent,” but instead of “to be silent,” he set down what is more, to wit, “them being in subjection.” And if this be so in respect of husbands, much more in respect of teachers, and fathers, and the general assembly of the Church. “But if they are not even to speak,” says one, “nor ask a question, to what end are they to be present?” That they may hear what they ought; but the points which are questioned let them learn at home from their husbands. Wherefore also he added,

“And if they would learn any thing, let them ask their own husbands at home [v.35a].”

Thus, “not only, as it seems, are they not allowed to speak,” says he, “at random, but not even to ask any question in the church.” Now if they ought not to ask questions, much more is their speaking at pleasure contrary to law. And what may be the cause of his setting them under so great subjection? Because the woman is in some sort a weaker being and easily carried away and light minded. Here you see why he set over them their husbands as teachers, for the benefit of both. For so he both rendered the women orderly, and the husbands he made anxious, as having to deliver to their wives very exactly what they heard.

Further, because they supposed this to be an ornament to them, I mean their speaking in public; again he brings round the discourse to the opposite point, saying,
 “For it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church [v.35b].”
That is, first he made this out from the law of God, then from common reason and our received custom; even when he was discoursing with the women about long hair, he said, “Does not even nature herself teach you?” And everywhere you may find this to be his manner, not only from the divine Scriptures, but also from the common custom, to put them to shame.

2. But besides these things, he also shames them by consideration of what all agreed on, and what was every where prescribed; which topic also here he has set down, saying,

“What? Was it from you that the word of God went forth? Or came it unto you alone [v.36]?”

Thus he brings in the other Churches also as holding this law, both abating the disturbance by consideration of the novelty of the thing, and by the general voice making his saying acceptable. Wherefore also elsewhere he said, “Who shall put you in remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in all the Churches.” And again, “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as in all the Churches of the saints.”  And here, “What? Was it from you that the word of God went forth? Or came it unto you alone?” i.e., “neither first, nor alone are you believers, but the whole world. ”Which also writing to the Colossians he said, “even as it is bearing fruit and increasing in all the world,” speaking of the Gospel.”
. . .
Do you see by how many arguments he put them to shame? He introduced the law, he signified the shamefulness of the thing, he brought forward the other Churches.
We can see a bit of progression, first of commenting on Paul's poor choice of words, then admitting the difficulty of the passage but nonetheless accepting it as Scripture, and finally preaching it without reservation in its entire context. All this before the end of the fourth century--and the manuscripts we have that cast doubt on this passage are from the fourth, sixth, and eleventh centuries. Were this passage still in the process of dominating the transmission stream from the second to the fourth centuries, it is inconceivable that no one commenting on the difficulty of applying it would bring up the question of the alleged spurious nature of the passage. Even in repeated disputes with heretics on the topic of women's role in the church, the textual question never even came up. There is every indication that at this passage, the heretics' Bibles read the same as those of the orthodox. So, from Church History we get

ANSWER #2: NO, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is NOT an interpolation, because several outstanding patristic writers of the second to fourth centuries, including one who made extensive textual comments on other passages, quoted it as indisputably authoritative Scripture.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Living in the Calm Before the Storm

The full moon is already shining down on the darkened half of the sphere, which means that we have entered the final half of Ramadan. It's time for another Middle East War update.

I've referred to this upcoming war as one between the US and Iran, or Israel and Iran. That much is inevitable; Iran will not take on 'the lesser satan' without going on to deal with 'the greater satan'. But it also appears virtually inevitable that the conflagration will extend beyond these parties. Hizbullah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon, sits across a barricaded border, armed to the teeth and with an itchy finger spasmodically tightening on the sub-ballistic trigger. Hamas is launching more and more sophisticated missiles into the populated areas of the Levant. And a conglomeration of rabid islamists either have set sail or or are making final plans to pierce the Israeli blockade of Gaza, with more bloodshed inevitable. This is shaping up to be a regional war, with the US and Israel on one side and everybody without a standing peace treaty with Israel on the other.

And now comes news that Secretary of State Hillary has scheduled 'peace talks' for September 2 in Washington. Need I point out that a Japanese delegation was busy 'talking peace' in Washington the entire time their carrier fleet was steaming its way across the Pacific to launch a devastating raid on Pearl Harbor? The talks were broken off only hours before the first attack wave took to the air. And the PLO has already threatened to break off these talks before they have even begun.

I've written a bit about how Israel may go about launching their planned and practiced attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. What I haven't mentioned are the attacks on Israel that have also been planned and practiced. For the first time since Yom Kippur in 1973, Israel will face simultaneous attacks on several fronts; and this time, from a greatly retracted battle line. Israel has given up all the land occupied in all its previous wars post-independence, other than the city of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights--both of which have long been made part of Israel proper--and a few heavily armed outposts scattered throughout the West Bank.

So far I have been reluctant to make any specific predictions about the timing, duration, or outcome of this conflagration, but at this point--the first tripwire having been passed over peacefully and the second barely a week away--I'm willing to concede that Israel may very well have chosen to allow itself to be attacked first. Should that happen, I predict that the counterattack will be devastating, like the colonies' response to the first shot fired at Lexington, or the American response to Pearl Harbor. But quicker--it will have to be. And I'll even make a prophecy about the outcome: It may take a long time, but Israel is going to win this one. I'd love to be able to predict more than that, but I don't want to be a millionaire.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Part VI, The Answers: The textual evidence (in the series: Is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 an interpolation?)

We first took a look at this verse in an earlier post, but only from the perspective of the TNIV reading. Here we'll look first at the NIV, and then back at the KJV. Backing up to include the previous verse, the NIV reads:
33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
As in all the congregations of the saints, 34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
The CBT followed the fashion of the time in joining the last clause of v. 33 to v. 34. A closer look at the manuscript evidence convinced them, a generation later, that they had no paratextual basis for doing so, and the convention was quietly dropped. UPDATE: Alas, it was not to stay dropped. The latest update of the NIV has put it back in as a marginal alternative.

Another noticeable change was dropping the capitalization of 'law' in v. 34. Someone must have taken a good look at the entire OT and failed to find any source for this quote, and decided to leave the citation a bit more ambiguous. And of course, as we noted earlier, the textual note was added for the TNIV. Now back to the KJV:
33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
We note at once a textual difference: most of the oldest manuscripts, and many of the newer ones, don't have 'your' women in v. 34. Another textual difference doesn't come out here: Most manuscripts read 'they were not allowed to speak'. The WH text reads 'they are not allowed to speak'. For some reason all Bibles appear to follow the oldest manuscripts for this reading. I'm probably ignorant of the nuances of Greek translation here--this should be more closely looked into.

There are two more textual differences to note in v. 35. Westcott and Hort's text reads, "If any would be learning," while most mss read "If any would learn." WH has been overthrown at this juncture by the Byzantine reading in p46, the oldest manuscript we have of the Pauline epistles. The other variant is between "a woman" as seen in the NIV, and "women" as seen in the KJV.

I wish I could give more information on these textual differences, but I'm limited to what I can access online. Some who have studied this more deeply report, in addition to the four pairs of readings I have listed for these two verses, at least eight more. This, in support of the axiom that many variants an interpolation do make. Au contraire, say I--many variants a theologically difficult passage do disclose. For example, Codex Alexandrinus reads, "to their husbands" after "must be in subjection"--an apparent harmonization to the reading of A in Col 3:18.

Nothing so far would indicate an interpolation here. All we see is that this verse was problematic for the scribes who copied it, and some made changes to the text in order to make it easier to interpret or apply. There is, indeed, no question that this passage was being interpreted and applied farther back than the copying of any manuscript that contains it. This passage finds its way into the commentary of some of the earliest Christian writers. We'll get back to that fact a little later, but for now it's clear that this passage was being read in the book of 1 Corinthians by Latin Christians before the end of the second century--a very inconvenient fact for those who look to the Latin text-type for proof that it was ever not accepted as Scripture.

It seems to be time to run this mystery passage through our checklist. Has it, or has it not carried the stigma of interpolation intact through the mists of time to the present day? Here we go:

1. - Abrupt changes in the subject matter or interruptions in an otherwise continuous train of thought.
Yes. The context of ch. 14 is the need for prophets and preachers not to interrupt each other, or to hog the pulpit. Everything must be done in order. But now comes along something that must not be done at all--women speaking in church. It doesn't fit the flow of the chapter--a problem not solved any in moving it to the end.

2. - Seeming inconsistencies or contradictions that conflict with other material in the document.
Absolutely. Paul had just spent a good share of ch. 11 laying out rules for men and women prophesying, emphasizing the equal but different role of women. Now he comes along and tells them to just shut up--they can't even ask their husbands any questions about the sermon until after they get home.

3. - The presence of certain formulae in supposedly inappropriate or uncustomary contexts.
Yes. Paul refers to what the law says some 40 times. But this is the only place he uses the exact phrase, "as also the law says" (he only uses a variation of the phrase "as the law says" three times). And in every other case, such a statement always precedes, or two of them bracket, a specific quote from the OT. Not only is no quote from the OT given here, there is no such prohibition given anywhere in the law, except for Jewish rabbinical law--a law for which Paul never exhibits anything but disdain.

4. - Repetition of redundant elements or perceived changes in tone or style.
Maybe. Here's where the high level of textual changes could sway the answer one way or another, so we'll suspend judgment on this item for now.

5. - The supposed assumption by the writer of different circumstances on the part of the intended audience.
Yes. It can easily be imagined how a scribe may have felt the need to temper the liberties laid out in the chapter for virtually anyone to speak out in a church service with a line of fine print that cut the number of potential speakers in half.

6 - The perceived character of the manuscripts that don't contain the alleged interpolation.
No. Like the case of the young young man prophet, there simply aren't any extant manuscripts that lack the alleged interpolation in this context. Since the margin of Vaticanus could be seen as supporting the omission, more attention is being directed toward it than would otherwise be probable.

7 - The variety of readings in the manuscripts that do contain the alleged interpolation.
Yes; especially three manuscripts in particular--from the Byzantine, Alexandrian, and Western text-types--which bear evidence in the margin that scribes had purposely left it out of 1 Corinthians in earlier copies.

So, out of seven criteria for establishment of an interpolation, this passage only scores a single unequivocal "No." And it is that singular point, more than any other, that has been responsible for it remaining in the Greek texts--and translations--of the translators of today's English Bibles. As we wrote earlier, it looks like that is about to change. But for now, from the manuscript evidence we get

ANSWER #1: NO, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 is NOT an interpolation, because it is not visibly absent from any Greek manuscript of the New Testament--not even from any of the Versions.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Part V, Variants: 1 Jn 5:7-8 and Matt 21:29-31: Is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 an interpolation?

One encounters an axiom among the textual critics in the halls of academe regarding what are referred to as spurious passages: the more variants found among the manuscript witnesses to a particular passage, the more likely it is to be an interpolation. This notion has some basis in truth. Take, for instance, the so-called Johannine Comma, also known as the Testimony of the Heavenly Witnesses:m
7 For there are three that bear witneƒs in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghoƒt: and theƒe three are one: 8 And there are three that bear witneƒs in Earth, the Spirit, the Water, and the Bloud: and theƒe three agree in one.   --Symon Patrick, 1675 (italics his)
7 For there are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one. 8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood: and these three agree as one.   --NKJV (as footnoted)
ότι τρεις εισίν οι μαρτυρούντες εν τω ουρανώ ο πατήρ ο λόγος και το αγίων πνεύμα και ούτοι οι τρεις εν εισί.  8 και τρεις εισίν οι μαρτυρούντες εν τη γη το πνεύμα και το ύδωρ και το αίμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισίν  --Scrivener's TR (italics his)

The italics mark an interpolation, brought into the Greek text in an attempt (actually many attempts, as we shall see) to conform it to what was already in the Latin, when it was noticed that no Greek manuscript contained it [but see UPDATE]. I will attempt to demonstrate below that it was also interpolated into the Latin manuscripts from which it came, as there is no evidence that it ever existed in Greek until it was specifically translated for the purpose from manuscripts of the Latin Scriptures.

Now, Greek and Latin differ in an important way: Greek depends upon definite articles to carry meaning; Latin, on the other hand, doesn't even have definite articles. Therefore anyone attempting to translate from Greek to Latin is forced to drop the articles, but anyone translating from Latin to Greek must supply them. This is precisely what we see when we look at the several manuscripts which contain a Greek translation of the Latin interpolation. There are five with the Comma added to the margins much later than the copying of the manuscript itself, and six manuscripts written with the Comma included in the text. I should add here that four of the latter are but hand-made copies of three different printed editions of the Textus Receptus (and one of these, a combination of two of them). The other two are described below.

There are three primary sources for the Greek version of the Comma. I provide below transcriptions and literal translations of each, along with such idiosyncrasies as I can transmit from facsimiles of the books themselves.The comma is marked off by [].

1. Codex Ottobonianus gr. 298 (Minuscule 629, aka Codex 162), a 14th century Latin/Greek diglot of the Acts and Epistles with the Latin Vulgate in the first column and an adapted Greek text in the second, with Greek corrections in the intervening margin. It is the oldest extant copy of the Comma in the Greek Scriptures; which comma had, a century or so earlier, been included in the Greek translation of the Acts of the Lateran Council (see below). Thus this textual family of the Comma can most likely be traced back to that very document. Observe that no text of the Comma in a Greek copy of First John matches this one, and even here, the Greek Comma doesn't match the Latin one across the page (substantial differences in bold).

7 Quia tres sunt qui testimonium dant [in celo, pat., verbum, & spiritus sanctus, et hy tres unum sunt. 8 Et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in ter], spiritus, aqua et sanguis. (omits et hi tres unum sunt 

For three are that testimony give [in heaven: Father, Word, and Spirit Holy; and these three one are. And three are that testimony give in earth]: spirit, water, and blood. (omits the end of v. 8--or rather, inserts it into the comma--the reason for which we shall see anon)

7 ότι τρεις εισίν οι μαρτυρούντες [ἀπὸ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, πατὴρ, λόγος, καὶ πνεῦμα ἅγιον. καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσι. 8 καὶ τρεῖς εἰσὶν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς] το πνεύμα, το ύδωρ, και το αίμα (omits, or rather transposes by substitution, καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσι)

For three are the witness-bearing [from the heaven: father, word, and spirit holy, and the three into the one are. And three are the witness-bearing upon the earth] the spirit, the water, and the blood (same story on the end of v. 8)

And I now have the text of  the only surviving manuscript of The Acts of the Lateran Council:

Latin: Quemadmodum in Canonica Joannis epistola legitur, Quia tres sunt qui testimonium dant in cælo,  Pater, (et*) Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus: et hi tres unum sunt. Statimque subjungitur: Et tres sunt qui testimonium dant in terra, Spiritus aqua et sanguis, et tres unum sunt: sicut in codicibus quibusdam invenitur.

*the text is uncertain; one source has et, but it is given to interpolation. The same source, moreover, lacks Sanctus.

Greek: ον τρόπον εν τη κανονική τη ιωαννο επιστολή αναγρωσκίται  ότι τρεις εισίν οι μαρτυρούντες [εν τω ουρανώ ο πατήρ λόγος και πνεύμα αγίου].  και τουτοι οι τρεις εν εισίν. ευθυσ τε προστιθησι καθως εν τισι κωδηξιν ευρίσκεται.

Translation of Latin: Moreover in the canonical epistle of John we read, For three are that testimony give in Heaven: Father, (and) Word, and Spirit Holy; and these three one are. After which immediately follows, And three are that testimony give in earth, spirit, water, and blood: and three one are: as is found in some copies.

Translation of Greek: Moreover in the canonical epistle of John is read, For three are the witness-bearing [in the heaven: the Father, Word, and Spirit Holy]; and these three one are. (still working on an exact translation of the closing comment; it appears to be the same as the Latin).

2. The Complutensian Polyglot (so-called), with the Latin Vulgate in one column and an adapted Greek text in the other--making it actually a Diglot in the New Testament volume. The first printing of the Comma in Greek, this was the version included in its manuscript copy, Codex Ravianus, and is close to that in the margin of Minuscule 88.

7 Quonium tres sunt oooo ooo qui testimonium dant [in celo: pater: verbum: et spiritus sanctus: & hi ooo oo tres unum sunt. 8 Et tres sunt qui oooo testimoniuʒ dant in terra:] Spiritus agua & sanguis.

For three are that testimony give [in heaven: father, word, and spirit holy, and these three one are. And three are that testimony give in earth] spirit, water, and blood. (same story on the end of v. 8)

7 ότι τρεις εισίν οι μαρτυρούντες [ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, ὁ πατὴρ καὶ ὁ λόγος καὶ τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα, καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσι. 8 καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οι μαρτυρούντες ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς] το πνεύμα και το ύδωρ και το αίμα ('omits' καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τὸ ἕν εἰσι)

For three are the witness-bearing [in the heaven: the father and the word and the holy spirit, and the three agree as one [lit, into the one are]. And three are the witness-bearing on the earth] the spirit and the water and the blood (same story on the end of v. 8)

3. Codex Montfortianus (Minuscule 61), a NT manuscript specially adapted to the Vulgate. Not completed until after the printing of the Textus Receptus, it was the first appearance of the Comma in a solely Greek manuscript. Its Comma, but one of many singular readings, was incorporated into the 1522 edition of the Textus Receptus (and none other). Minuscule 429 has this particular version of the Comma in its margin.

7 ότι τρεις εισίν οι μαρτυρούντες [ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ, πατὴρ, λόγος, καὶ πνεῦμα ἅγιον, καὶ οὗτοι οἱ τρεῖς ἕν εἰσιν. 8 καὶ τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυρούντες ἐν τῇ γῇ,] πνεύμα, ύδωρ, και αίμα, (omits καὶ οἱ τρεῖς εἰς τό ἕν εἰσι)

For three are the witness-bearing [in the heaven: father, word, and spirit holy, and these the three one are. And three are the witness-bearing in the earth] spirit, water, and blood (without the usual wording from the end of v. 8)

Observe, then, the state of the Johannine Comma in 1522, at the time it first entered the Protestant canon via the Third Edition of Erasmus. It entirely lacked the last clause--or, to put it more precisely, consisted of two separate interpolations bracketing a corrupted transposition. When one looks on the one hand at the first two editions of the Textus Receptus that don't contain the Comma, and on the other hand at the two manuscripts and two editions that do contain the Comma,  there is a total disconnect. Only in later editions was the Comma edited in such a way that it could be inserted into the text as a seamless interpolation. And when I say "later editions," I mean that it took over half a dozen unique editions of the Textus Receptus before 1 John 5:7-8 reached its present form! It was a process that itself took nearly a dozen steps both forward and backward, as shown below (I used electronic photofacsimilies of Erasmus 1,2,3,4, Stephanus 3, Beza 3,4, Elzevir1, Hutter, and Scrivener 1,2 to compile this data)--

1. Erasmus 1516, 1519, 1521: 1 John 5, without the Comma, has articles in front of each of the three witnesses.
- Aldus 1518 made no changes to these verses.
- Gerbelius 1521 does not have the comma.
2. The Complutensian Diglot, printed in 1514 and published in 1522: 1 John 5 has articles preceding all three Heavenly Witnesses, but none of the Earthly ones. Moved the ν from the final εισίν in v. 8 to the final one in v. 7, as part of its transposition of the end of v. 8 into the Comma.
3. Erasmus 1522: Under the influence of Codex Montfortianus, printed vv. 7-8 with no articles preceding any of the Witnesses, but restored the 'omission' of the end of v. 8. Kept the ν in the final εισίν of v. 8. In his Latin column, he changed 'verbum' to 'sermo' (Word), a brand new reading of the Latin Comma. This was the only change from the Vulgate text as he printed it.
- Cephalius 1524 and 1526 made no changes to these verses.
- Colinaeus 1534 made no changes to these verses.
4. Erasmus 1527, 1535: restored the deleted articles to v. 7. Reprinted his unique Latin translation in the 2nd column.
- Stephanus 1546, 1549 made no changes to Erasmus, as far as I can determine.
5. Stephanus 1550: Switched around 'spirit' and 'holy' under the influence of the Complutensian Diglot, conflating the two versions of the Comma then in print. Restored the deleted articles to v. 8. Identified the beginning of the Comma with a textual note in the margin showing that none of his manuscripts had the passage, but failed to identify in the earth as part of the Comma--a lapse also in the English Coverdale version. Neither εισί had a final ν.
6. Stephanus 1551Restored the ν to the final εισίν of v. 8 (this is the only reported textual change in this entire edition). Put the verse division, printed here for the first time, within the Comma.
- Elzevir 1624 and 1633 (which have hundreds of differences between them) made no changes. The second edition was reprinted five times, the last one in 1678--forming a basis for late 18th-century American editions.
- Beza 1565, 1582, 1588, 1598 reprinted Stephaus, with the Comma marked and noted in the margin.  Featured yet another new reading in the Latin column, with 'testify' in both verses instead of 'bear witness,' and 'these three agree as one' ending v. 8.
7. Elias Hutter's 1599 6-column polyglot prints the Comma in 12 languages, supplying a translation in parentheses in all languages but Latin and Greek. The Latin text follows the Vulgate, and the Greek text that of Stephanus--but with the addition of  and in front of the word. His English text follows the 1583 revision of the Geneva Bible, which uniquely has "in the earth." Neither of these additions were retained in any later editions of the Comma.
8. Scrivener 1887, 1894: Eliminated all the ligatures previously used. Comma marked in italics.
9. The Greek Orthodox Church Patriarchal text of 1904: goes back to the Stephanus 1551 version of the Comma.
10. TBS 20th century: Standardised the spelling of εισίν in both verses for the first time.

The standardization of the printed text came way too late to ensure that the Commas inserted into the margins of older manuscripts would be identical. The most eccentric of these is Minuscule 177, a manuscript of the NT minus the gospels, into the top margin of which the Comma was added in the 17th or 18th century. It is labeled "v.7," but has no article in front of 'heaven', nor does it have the "in earth" portion of the comma, which has been assigned to v. 8. The first word, οτι, was added one line above as a further correction. And all of the words are fully spelled out with no nomina sacra, as in Erasmus' 3rd edition. Other than that(!), it reads the same as the comma in the margin of Minuscule 636.

ότι τρεις εισιν οἱ μαρτυρουντες εν ουρανω: πατηρ, λογος, και πνευμα αγιον, και οἱ τρεις εις τό εν εισιν
for three are the witness-bearing in heaven: father, word, and spirit holy, and the three agree as one (literally, the three in the one are).

One manuscript copy matches Erasmus 1527 exactly in the comma, but--naturally--not in the rest of v. 8. Another two manuscript copies were made of Stephanus 1550, along with the marginal reading of Minuscule 221. This version reads:

7 οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες [εν τῷ ουρανω: ὁ πατὴρ, ὁ λογος, και τὁ αγιον πνευμα, καὶ οὗτοι οι τρεις εν εισι. 8 και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες ἐν τῇ γῇ]το πνεύμα και το ύδωρ και το αίμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισί
for three are the witness-bearing [in the heaven: the father, the word, and the holy spirit, and these the three one are. 8 and three are the witness-bearing in the earth] the spirit and the water and the blood, and the three agree as one (literally, the three in the one are)

It appears that no two of the extant manuscripts or early editions have the same text of 1 John 5:7-8--not even in translation to English. Disregarding the Greek spelling--which was not standardised until this past century--the present text of v. 7-8 with the interpolation is one that, as far as we can tell, never existed on papyrus, parchment, or paper before the latter part of the sixteenth century, in at least the fourteenth edition of the Textus Receptus. In all these cases, the primary differences are the presence or absence of articles and conjunctions, and the choice of prepositions--primarily the very differences that would emerge in translating from Latin to Greek. But there are also changes in word order, the absence of a word due to parablepsis, duplication of a phrase, and even variously spelled words; in this one verse fragment we have examples of almost every scribal error.

But what is the significance of this? Is there a direct correlation between a passage being interpolated and it being full of scribal errors? It may depend. What factors large in this example is the fact that there were numerous variants in the Latin text of the Comma before it was ever brought over into the Greek text. I give an approximation of the evidence from the Old Latin mss as listed in the UBS4 apparatus (bear in mind that these are dated up to several centuries later than the oldest Vulgate manuscript):

[in terra], spiritus (et) aqua et sanguis. 8 [et tres sunt, qui testimonium dicunt in caelo, pater, verbum et spiritus]

[in terra], spiritus (et) aqua et sanguis, et hi tres unum sunt. 8 [et tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt in caelo, pater, verbum et spiritus.]

[in terra], spiritus et aqua et sanguis, et hi tres unum sunt. 8 [et tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt in caelo, pater, verbum, et spiritus, et hi tres unum sunt in Christo Iesu.]

itm itp
[in terra], spiritus (et) aqua et sanguis, et hi tres unum sunt [in Christo Iesu. 8 et tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt in caelo, pater, verbum, et spiritus.]

[in terra], spiritus et aqua et sanguis, et hi tres unum sunt [in Christo Iesu. 8 et tres sunt qui testimonium dicunt in caelo, pater, filius, et spiritus], et hi tres unum sunt [in Christo Iesu].

The Comma is  not found in the text of any extant Vulgate manuscripts prior to the ninth century, nor in the majority of those extant from before the 12th century. Cassiodorus, a textual critic of the sixth century, published the New Testament with the Old Latin and the Vulgate in parallel columns. To this is credited the ensuing commingling of the two textual traditions. Vulgate manuscripts show various signs of thus having received the interpolation from the Old Latin, all extant manuscripts of which contain it.  Some, for example, follow itl--as well as Cyprian and Tertullian in their quotations of the canonical portion of v. 8--reading filius (son) instead of verbum, and this version found its way into at least one medieval translation of the Vulgate, used by the Waldensians.  The Second Edition of the Wycliffe Bible also translates filius, but as a gloss, not a literal translation--as can be seen from some manuscripts of the First Edition, where it is introduced as a gloss alongside the literal translation of verbum.

But the Vulgate manuscripts are even more divergent than this. One reads:

Tres sunt qui testimonium dant [in terra], spiritus aqua et sanguis. 8 [et tres sunt, qui testimonium dant in cælo pater verbum et spiritus] et tres unum sunt.  
Three there are that give testimony [in earth]: the spirit, the water, and the blood. 8 [And three there are that give testimony in heaven: Father, Word, and Spirit]; and three one are (many, if not most, Vulgate manuscripts omit this last clause from v. 8, but here it is missing from the interpolation in v. 7).

Note that although it is unique in what it includes, the Latin reading in this manuscript follows all the Old Latins in where it's included, being a transposition of what ended up making its way from late texts of the Vulgate into the Greek manuscripts. It's a dislocated text!

The evidence available to us may be sufficient to show how the early version of this interpolation arose--the only mystery yet to be solved is how it got transposed in its final edition--a mystery I here assist to the reader to solve. We begin with the first interpolated phrase, in terra (in earth), seen in a quotation by the sixth-century Bishop Facundus, who wrote:

De Patre et Filio et Spiritu Sancto sic dicit: Tres sunt qui testimonium dant [in terra], spiritus aqua et sanguis, et tres unum sunt.   (Of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it says: Three there are that testimony give [in earth]: spirit, water, and blood, and three one are). Ironically, he interpreted these as Spirit=The Father, Water=The Holy Spirit, and Blood=The Son. At any rate, we now had 6 witnesses instead of 3, and it was short step to add 'in heaven' to balance the two groups out. Although the Vulgate continued to be copied without the Comma for centuries, more and more scribes were putting it in. Some added the extra witnesses following the three that were already there, some preceding; eventually the latter prevailed. The different Greek versions could in part be due to their being independently translated from varying Latin witnesses.

In early sixth-century Bishop Fulgentius' quotation of John the evangelist, we have the insertion of in coeolo to Facundas' three interpretations. This reads the same as the Declaration of the Council of Carthage in 484:

tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent [in coelo, Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus,] et tres unum sunt.

Codex Ottobonianus, cited above, doesn't appear to have followed the usual Latin order--and the bulk of the subsequent Vulgate texts have done the same. The influence of Thomas Aquinas can also be seen behind dropping et tres unum sunt from most subsequently copied manuscripts of the Comma.

Significantly, no Latin text gives any basis for the presence of the word eis in either triad. But eis is inserted into the Comma on the Greek side to match the eis already in the canonical triad--an dittography carried over into the Complutensian text that changes the meaning from 'the three are one' to 'the three agree as one'. This interpolation-within-an-interpolation was never present in any Latin text until it began to be translated from the Greek of the Textus Receptus into the modern languages of Europe. In the 1550's, Protestants in Geneva were very active in Bible Translation. Among these was Theodore Beza, who provided a Latin translation of the New Testament that was consulted in translating the Geneva Bible. He later translated it into French. All three Bibles reflected the difference between the two triads resulting from the introduction of eis into the text (Beza's French translation in italics):
Nam tres sunt qui testificantur [in coelo, Pater, Sermo, & Spiritus sanctus: & hi tres unum sunt. 8 Et tres sunt qui testificantur in terra], spiritus & aqua & sanguis: & hi tres in unum consentiunt ('& ces trois-la se rapportent en un').
The King James version went on to exaggerate that difference by translating μαρτυροῦντες differently for each triad.

Going back about as far as we can to find the Comma in extant manuscripts, one from the late 5th century attributed to Vigilius of Thapsus reads,

in terra, aqua sanguis et caro, et tres in nobis sunt.
in earth: water, blood, and flesh; and three in us are.

Going back just as far, to the very oldest copy of the Vulgate (Codex Fuldensis), there is no Comma:
Quia tres sunt qui testimonium dant, spiritus et aqua et sanguis. Et tres unum sunt.
--even though it contains a prologue to the Catholic Epistles which reads as follows:
. . . illo praecipue loco ubi de unitate trinitatis in prima iohannis epistula, positum legimus in qua est ab infidelibus translatoribus multum erratum esse fidei ueritate, conperimus trium tantummodo uocabula hoc est aquae sanguinis et spiritus in ipsa sua editione potentes et patri uerbique ac spiritus testimonium omittentes, in quo maxime et fides catholica roboratur et patris et fili et spiritus sancti una diuinitatis substantia conprobatur.
. . . "especially in that text where we read the unity of the trinity placed in the first letter of John, where much error has occurred at the hands of unfaithful translators contrary to the truth of faith, who have kept just the three words water, blood and spirit in this edition omitting mention of Father, Word and Spirit in which especially the catholic faith is strengthened and the unity of substance of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is attested."

Note that although in this prologue the three extra witnesses are in the early location following the canonical three, these themselves are not in the order as found in any text of First John! There simply isn't any history of transmission from a specific Latin phrase going forward to a specific Greek phrase, much less one that goes back to a specific Greek original.

Scientist and Biblical Scholar Issac Newton investigated this interpolation in his book Two Notable Corruptions. He wrote,
Lastly it is to be observed that the reading of this text in ancient MSS is very various and uncertain. For this is a most infallible signe that the text has been tampered with & that those who first inserted this testimony knew of no certain authentick reading which they were to follow, but noted it in the margins of their books in such various forms of words as they thought conformable either to Jerome's correction of the text or to his Preface or to such marginal notes as they had seen in other books, & that sometimes without designing to make it part of the text; then the transcribers by these marginal notes corrected the text--some one way, some another--according to the best of their judgments. For as this testimony in some old MSS which want it in the text is found noted in the margin in another hand, so in others the various readings in the text are such as ought to result by transcribing it out of the margins.
Perhaps we could restate the opening axiom of this post as follows:
An interpolation which is brought into the text by a multiplicity of transmission streams will exhibit a wide variety of readings in the manuscripts at the end of those streams.
It does not logically follow, however, that an interpolation brought into the text by a single scribe will necessarily contain any variants whatsoever, as we saw in the case of 2 Kings 9:4.  All the variants of that verse stem solely from translators trying to make sense of it. It was Newton's observation that the path of interpolation was typically, if not invariably, via a marginal note. It is interesting in this regard to observe that most of the cases in which the Comma is found in a Greek manuscript, it is found in the margin. Newton found this to be the same case even in many of the Latin manuscripts.

So, does this mean that every time we come to a multiplicity of variants, we can assume an underlying translated interpolation? Certainly not. There could be other reasons for a multiplicity of readings, or for the lack of a majority reading. For example, the split between ἔχωμεν and ἔχομεν in Romans 5:1 is pretty  much right down the middle of the manuscript corpus, whether uncial or minuscule, original hand or corrector--due to the fact that W and O sounded the same in Greek by the time the book of Romans was being copied into the manuscripts we now have. It does not mean that the word in either form is an interpolation, although it's apparent that many scribes couldn't resist the urge to correct what 'didn't look right' in the text before them.

There's another passage with a number of variants, even exhibiting a transposition similar to that in the Comma. In fact, it has way more variants than is typical of passages of that length, 1 Cor 14:34-35 included. It's Matthew 21:29-31:

29 He answered and said, 'I will not': but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I go, sir': and went not. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father?" They say unto him, "The first".

Thus the common reading. But some manuscripts (and all Bibles that still follow the WH text) read this way:

29 He answered and said, 'I (/go), sir,' but did not go. 30 And he came to the second (or other) and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I will not': but afterward he repented, and went. 31 Which of them twain did the will of his father?" They say, "The last".

A couple of manuscripts even read this way:

29 He answered and said, 'I will not': but afterward he repented, and went. 30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I, sir: and went not. 31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father?" They say, "The last".

or this way:

He answered and said, 'I go, sir,' but did not go. 30 And he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, 'I will not': but afterward he repented, and went. 31 Which of them twain did the will of his father?" They say, "The first".

And even this is an extreme oversimplification of the evidence. The manuscripts are simply riddled with variants at this section. Even the Vulgate manuscripts are split between the first three versions of the story. Both Origen and Jerome commented on the multiplicity of manuscripts with variant readings here. But no one today proposes that any of the information in these verses was interpolated; they simply disagree on the order. And they disagree on their theories as to why the last two versions don't make sense. Really, the second one doesn't make much sense either--why would the father send his second son if the first one had already gone? I'm quite happy myself with the edition found in most manuscripts.

An early textual critic, Lachmann, did feel that there must be an interpolation here somewhere--but few have agreed on just what it was. It does seem to be clear that editorial tampering with what was already in the text is behind all the variants--not an interpolation.

I don't think much of the axiom that a multiplicity of readings indicates an interpolation--that's simply getting the cart before the horse. The best indication of an interpolation is the discovery of the same block of text at various places in the immediate context of its location in the majority of manuscripts. This is a clear sign that something once written in the margin had been moved into the adjoining text.

Now we're getting to the place where we can pull together all this information and apply it to 1 Corinthians 14:34-45--which, as it happens, has both an alleged multiplicity of readings and a dislocated text.

UPDATE June 2013:
While we now know that the Comma Johanneum did not exist in a Greek-only manuscript prior to finding its way into print, a close perusal of the literature of the centuries in which this question first came up shows that this fact was by no means assumed nor accepted by defenders of the Comma, who expected at any time for a Greek manuscript of earlier centuries to show up containing it. This erroneous thinking was perpetuated due to a misunderstanding of the textual notes in Stephanus--for example, by Calvin, who wrote, "As I see that it is found in the best and most approved copies, I am inclined to receive it as the true reading."

UPDATE August 2016:
I can now refer the reader to an exhaustive treatment of the history of the Johannine Comma as set forth by Grantley Robert McDonald in his second doctoral thesis (2011), in which he presents a historical case for the comma springing from centuries of allegorically interpreting the Three Witnesses as representing the three persons of the Trinity, it being only a matter of time before the passage itself was altered (in numerous ways, as we have shown) to make this more explicit.
An endless loop may be followed by clicking on this link.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Part IV, Dislocations: Numbers 10 and John 7: Is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 an interpolation?


Several scholars have voiced their opinion that the dislocation of 1 Corinthians 14:35-36 to the end of the chapter in manuscripts of the Western or Latin text-type proves it to be an interpolation from an earlier marginal note. In the two previous articles in this series, we have shown this to be a distinct possibility from a text-critical perspective. But we've also shown that the fact of a passage's dislocation does not in and of itself prove it to be spurious. In the case of Joshua 21:36-37, what appeared to be an interpolation from the margin--dislocated in some manuscripts--was in fact a reconstruction or restitution of a passage originally lost through parablepsis--a process recognized by its inclusion in the text of all English Bibles in print today. There are many alleged cases of dislocations in the Scripture; we shall look at a representative sample in today's study.

The Masoretes actually recognized that there were dislocations in their copies of the Scripture, and carefully noted them. The best known of these is the passage known to us as Numbers 10:35-36 (what is it about all these 2-verse interpolations being within three verses of the thirty-third?). Here it is, in the KJV:
35 And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. 36 And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel.
According to the Talmud, the scribes marked this section of text with dots to show that it did not originally belong there. One rabbi suggested that it was a pericope brought into the text from a scroll of its own. Interestingly, no extant manuscript of the Torah shows dots in this section; instead, it is marked off with brackets (known anciently as sigma/antisigma or nunim m'nuzarot).

The Masoretes appeared not to know of any other position for this pericope in the text, but if we look outside the corpus of Hebrew manuscripts, we find it in another position in the LXX--albeit only one verse higher up the page, preceding rather than following verse 34, which reads:
And the cloud of the LORD was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp.
Here we see an acknowledged interpolation, supported by a version, quite evidently having been moved into the text from the margin, and thus finding a home at two adjacent locations. And for what it's worth, I prefer it's location in the LXX; it seems to fit a little better there. But what does it matter? The point is that no English Bibles are being marked with this verse in brackets to show that it wasn't part of the original text of Numbers. Although known to be an interpolation, there it sits, without so much as a footnote.

The most famous dislocation in the New Testament is the Pericope Adulterae--the story of the woman taken in adultery. The pericope actually begins with the last verse of John chapter 7, with the actual story commencing in 8:3 and running to the end of verse 11. An excellent overview of the manuscript evidence can be found at this website, so I'll not go into it here. But note especially the following:

225, 1128 post Jo 7:36
al17 post Jo 8:12
2691 post Jo 8:14a
981 post Jo 8:20
geomss post Jo 7:44

The likelihood that this was a marginal note brought into the text by many different scribes can be seen by the variety of locations to which it was brought, all within a few verses of its location in the majority of manuscripts, between 7:52 and 8:12. And indeed, that is the only logical place to put it. Since the pericope provides a transition between the private scene in the chambers of the Sanhedrin of 7:45-52 and the public scene in the Temple courtyard of 8:12-58,  its location anywhere else breaks up the structure of the overall passage.

Now, this pericope gets a very different treatment on the pages of our English Bibles than does the one in Numbers 10. Like the rabbins of old, today's scholars believe this pericope to have been introduced from a separate scroll after the composition of John's gospel had been completed. But rather than just bowing to tradition and leaving it in the text unmolested, as did the editors of the King James Version, and as they themselves do in Numbers 10, they must needs set it off from the text with some comment such as, "The earliest and most reliable manuscripts do not contain this passage." This tautological expression does little to inspire confidence either in the translators, or in their translation.

But how did the Pericope Adulterae find its way into the majority of Johannine manuscripts? Well, we can be pretty sure how it got into ms#1071: it appears to have been copied into the text by the scribe from a manuscript unrelated to his exemplar. Why, we ask, would a scribe reject all the errant readings of ms #05 save one, copying all 12 of its verses that were missing from his favoured exemplar? It can only be that some process had resulted in these verses being missing from the entire Alexandrian family of manuscripts, and others besides. Sure it is that some scribes lamented their loss: manuscripts #019 and #037 leave a blank space for it, as if in hope that the scribes could someday find a copy of it with which to fill out their deficient text. But in retaining the Pericope, the Western textual family served as the off-site backup from which manuscripts of the other text families could refresh their textual database.

[UPDATE MAY 2015] I had to remove a dead link from the preceding paragraph, and along with it we must discard the theory it represented. I've had a chance to examine the reading of 1071 in this passage, and it is, as so many are, unique. What is more likely is that when, in the fifth century, this passage was added to the Greek Lectionary as the passage to be read aloud on the Feast Day of Ste. Pelagia, many scribes hustled to insert it back into the manuscripts from which it had been omitted. The haste with which this was done could well have contributed to the wide variety of readings. Now, back to the original post:

Of course we still want to know, was the Pericope Adulterae present in the gospel of John when it was first published? Textual criticism can't really answer that question, but it can state probabilities. And this is where theology enters the picture. Some people's theology requires that everything now in their Bible must have been put there by the original Author. So for them, there is no question of interpolations. Any passages alleged to be interpolations must have been dropped from the original text, only to be brought back in by the providence of God. This philosophy cannot be disproved, but it does a woefully poor job of accounting for interpolations like that found in 2 Kings 9:4, as discussed previously.

Others take a more cautious approach, believing it possible, based on Revelation 22:18-19, for words to be added to or removed from the original text of Scripture. Their goal is to so search out the evidence as to be able to reasonably determine which has happened, and where--and, as much as is possible, to reconstruct the text as it once was. This is obviously the approach taken by the King James Version editors in incorporating Joshua 21:36-37 into their text, despite its deliberate absence in the text of the Massoretes. And the approach taken by a number of scribes who incorporated the Pericope Adulterae into their texts, even though it was missing from their primary exemplar (more recently discovered examples of this are 1049, 1220, and 2661, all with a PA copied from 021).

So, how about 1 Corinthians 14:34-35? The textual evidence for interpolation here is roughly equivalent to that of Numbers 10:35-36: present in all original language copies, but with some marks of doubt, and dislocation in versional manuscripts. Were the marks of doubt left there by unbelieving scribes without faith in the preservation of God's word? Is it a passage that was originally present, but removed for theological reasons? Or, more like the interpolation in 2 Kings 9:4, is its presence in the text the result of a well-meaning scribe and a series of subsequent misunderstandings?

We shall endeavor to answer that question in our final post of this series. But first, we address the issue of Variants.

April 2014:
The following quote was discovered on the Internet, and mentions as typical a scenario for which there is a single known extant example, the 10th century Minuscule 2414, which has the PA written in the bottom margin in a much later hand. Speaking of the Pericope Adulterae, Euthymius Zigabenus of Constantinople wrote in the early 12th century,
It is necessary to know that from there until ‘Then, again, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world,”’ among the accurate copies is neither found nor obelized. Wherefore these words appear written alongside the text and as an addition; and the proof of this is that Chrysostom does not remember them at all.
Note, he was writing from the center of the Byzantine world, and he knew of ancient copies that had the PA written in the margin.

UPDATE APRIL 2016: In the half-decade since I wrote this series, the science of textual criticism has advanced rapidly. I would not write the above if I were writing today, but will leave it up for its historical value. I suggest the interested reader look into what has been recently published on the Pericope Adulterae, showing that its absence in several hundred manuscripts, and dislocation in others, is a direct result of its unusual usage in two competing lexical readings.