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Friday, 28 January 2011

Baptize, THEN disciple?

Back in 2011 I wrote:
. . . I've been working on a (heavy) post for Nazaroo's blog. I would have posted it here, but I fear lest I weary my longsuffering readers.
Well, since Nazaroo's blog is being shut down, here it is.

Matthew's Ending (28:19): The textual evidence

There's been a bit of a discussion over the past semester on the Ending of Matthew. Not the very last verse, mind you, but the penultimate one, verse 19 of chapter 28. Here are several extant versions of it (ignoring  ligatures and miniature uncials but indicating Nomina Sacra:  πρς = patros,   πνς = pneumatos):

01 (א) = Sinaiticus
πορευθεντες  μαθητευσατε παντα τα εθνη βαπτιζοντες αυτους εις το ονομα του  πρς και του υιου και του αγιου  πνς

02 (A) = Alexandrinus 
πορευθεντες  μαθητευσατε παντα τα εθνη βαπτιζοντες αυτους εις το ονομα του  πρς και του υυ και του αγιου  πνς

03 (B) = Vaticanus
πορευθεντες ουν μαθητευσατε παντα τα εθνη βαπτισαντες αυτους εις το ονομα του πατρος και του υιου και του αγιου πνευματος

05 (D) = Bezae
πορευεσθαι νυν μαθητευσατε παντα τα εθνη βαπτισαντες αυτους εις το ονομα του  πρς και υιου και του αγιου  πνς

032 (W) = Washingtonensis
πορευθεντες ουν μαθητευσατε παντα τα εθνη βαπτιζοντες αυτους εις το ονομα του  πρς και του υιου και του αγιου  πνς

Tischendorf, Majority Text (=01/א)
πορευθεντες  μαθητευσατε παντα τα εθνη βαπτιζοντες αυτους εις το ονομα του πατρος και του υιου και του αγιου πνευματος

Textus Receptus, Westcott & Hort, NA27 (=032/W)

πορευθεντες ουν μαθητευσατε παντα τα εθνη βαπτιζοντες αυτους εις το ονομα του πατρος και του υιου και του αγιου πνευματος

 First of all, let's consider the overall pattern of variants. Codex Bezae is wild as usual, with unique readings at all three locations, plus a missing article--reading just as if it were a translation from the Old Latin in the adjacent column.

Ah--oops, not quite so. Codex Vaticanus joins its wildness at βαπτίσαντες. I had to look these up in facsimile, as LaParola claims they both read βαπτίζαντες. They don't -- unless both facsimiles are wrong, which I strongly doubt.  It's evident that LaParola does not reflect the actual text of Bezae, just a general pattern of support and non-support for readings found elsewhere.

It's interesting to note--claims of 'accumulated errors' notwithstanding, the text that Erasmus found in a medieval minuscule (probably GA-1, Codex Basilensis A. N. IV. 2) turned out to read exactly as Codex Washingtoniensis -- nearly coeval with Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, and at least as old as Bezae. So it was that Westcott/Hort kept the Textus Receptus reading--which remains unchanged to this day in the NA27 text. 
Tischendorf, however, influenced by Sinaiticus, aligned with the reading in the youngest minuscules! All this should put to rest the idea that 'older is better' and 'youngest is worthless.'

Now, leaving aside the wild readings, let's focus on the variants themselves. 

1. Include or omit ουν.
Although it's included in Vaticanus, we can hardly call it an Alexandrian reading (especially since two of the Alexandrian witnesses, C and L, are lacunose here). It's actually more like the Caesarean reading, shared by a smattering of Alexandrian and Byzantine mss. Being the Vulgate reading, it found its way into the Textus Receptus by way of Erasmus' Caesarean manuscript GA-1.
Most manuscripts from 01 (א) onward omit it -- a most unusual situation in which one of the oldest manuscripts line up with most of the youngest ones, but one of the youngest ones lines up with most of the oldest.

2.  -- βαπτίζοντες vsβαπτίσαντες
The former is the present active form, the latter the aorist active form of the participle. Textual editors have rejected  the latter, despite its presence in Codex Vaticanus; I don't know why. This appears to be a Western influence in Vaticanus. LaParola is quite off here, misspelling their citation of the latter form.

There is only one more variant mentioned at LaParola (the UBS4 text), which is the deletion of the entire phrase βαπτίζοντες αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ τοῦυἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος ("baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit"). 
According to LaParola, Origen  and Eusebius replace the entire phrase with ἐν τῳ ὀνόματι μου (i.e., = "in My name [only]"), when in fact Origin simply deletes it.

The story is far from being as simple as that. Actually, the full phrase is cited about 90 times in patristic writings, but none of them place the phrase at the end of Matthew's gospel--nor do any of the citations of Origen and Eusebius. In fact, neither of these attach  ἐν τῳ ὀνόματι μου to either form of the participle, but rather to the verb used earlier in the verse for making disciples of all nations.

If one were to hypothesize, as Conybeare did, that the Trinitarian Formula was not original to Matthew -- on the basis of Eusebius and Origen -- then he should go on to conclude that the entire baptismal formula, including any mention of a name, was a later development. But there simply isn't any direct textual or patristic evidence that Matthew's gospel ended without it.


Codex Vaticanus, the celebrated "oldest and best" manuscript behind NA-28 and UBS5, is not followed here, because its change to the text is best explained as an orthodox corruption: Jesus commanded his disciples to disciple and baptize the nations; however, what the guardians of that command ended up doing was subverting it to baptizing, THEN discipling; mass baptisms brought entire nations into the fold of Christendom knowing no more of Christianity than that they were now a part of it. This has long since ceased to be a practice, so it would be rather embarrassing to continue to give it the imprimatur of one of the best-known passages of Scripture.

But this returns us to the original question. If Jesus' command so could easily be altered to reflect the new reality of mass forced conversion, may it not as easily been altered to force a Trinitarian orthodoxy?

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