Tuesday, December 14, 2010

James Snapp - Tachygraphy in Luke

James recently posted on textual criticism (yahoo groups) the following tidbit:
This might be trivial; nevertheless: in Lk. 2:22, did Luke write the equivalent of "their," (AUTWN) "his," (AUTOU) or "her" (AUTHS)? Maybe the answer should be "No."

AUTWN has extremely strong support. D's AUTOU is probably a result of retro-translation. UBS-2 lists MS 76 as support for AUTHS, and this is repeated by the NET's online notes, but WW observes that Gregory and Hatch saw that this was not the case. Hatch went through the trouble of explaining why 76 was erroneously cited as a witness for AUTHS; he assigns the blame mainly to Scholz, in a footnote in an article, "The Text of Luke II, 22" in Harvard Theological Review (#14, from 1921). This issue of HTR is online at Google Books; I've added it to my virtual library-shelf of NTTC resources. It's the same annual in which Kirsopp Lake drew attention to Epistula Apostolorum. Hatch's article begins on p. 377; the digital page number in Adobe Reader is 396.

Decades after Hatch's article, UBS-2 still cited 76 as support for AUTHS, and so do the notes in the NET. (Sound effect: grunt-sigh of exasperation.) UBS-4 has no note here.

Hatch mentions that Origen discussed the problematic AUTWN in his fourteenth homily on Luke. Hatch also states that the Sahidic version supports AUTOU. Hatch proposes that Luke, misunderstanding a non-Greek source-document that was intended to refer to Mary's purification, wrote AUTOU, and that later scribes replaced AUTOU with AUTWN. He also mentions that although Erasmus and Stephanus printed AUTWN, the Complutensian Polyglott, and Beza, and the Elzevir text contained AUTHS, apparently as a Latin-based conjecture. (This is reflected in the KJV and NKJV.)

Metzger noted that "in cursive Greek script the pronoun was abbreviated AUT with the termination expressed by a "shorthand" stroke." Now, it occurs to me that an ambiguously abbreviated "AUT" could account for all the extant readings: scribes could independently unfold an ambiguously abbreviated "AUT" in different ways, as AUTWN or as AUTOU or as AUTHS.

2427 has some abbreviations of AUTOS, about which Colwell wrote something, but since it's a forgery let's take that off the table.

In an issue of The Journal of Hellenic Studies (XI, 1890), T. W. Allen wrote an article called "Fourteenth Century Tachygraphy." (It includes two Plates which are near the end of the volume.) On p. 291, he mentions "AUTOU is the XYZ of the Grotta Ferrata tachygraphs." ("XYZ" being a symbol in the printed text which cannot be duplicated without special fonts.) In a footnote he adds,
"As this mode of contracting AUTOS is rare, I may mention that it occurs (AUTOU and AUTON) frequently in the Paris MS. Coislin 387 (s. xi.)." (I think Paris MS. Coislin contains Porphyry's Isagoge.)

The Grotta Ferrata tachygraphs are, it seems today, not an easy subject to research in English, but in a short book published in 1889 book called Notes on Abbreviations in Greek Manuscripts, Professor Allen discusses them and their abbreviations. I'll skip most of the details; let's get to what he says about AUTOS on p. 9:
"AUTOS. A ligature for this pronoun worth recording occurs in some of the Grotta Ferrata mss. ; it consists of the A and U run together with the case-ending added : cf. AUTOS AUTOIS AUTHN hEAUTWN hWSAUTWS from Gr. Ferr. B. A. i. and Angel. B. 3. II. A similar combination of A and I occurs in AUTOU from Aed. Christ. 70 (a. 1104) and the ligature is probably common."

In the 1901 issue of the Journal of Hellenic Studies (accessible at Archive), F. W. G. Foat has an article, "On Old Greek Tachygraphy," beginning on p. 238. Foat helpfully profiles the MSS of all sorts, from all ages, that contain special tachygraphic symbols, monograms, etc, from the major MSS down to ostraca. Foat included a Plate (#XVIII) of Brit. Mus. Add. MS 33270, a third-century wax tablet (about the size of a Kindle) that seems to contain about 14 pages of tachygraphical writing. On p. 259 of his article, as Foat attempted to use a feature in the wax tablet to decipher part of another text (in Brit. Mus. Pap. cxxi. 14, col. 27) -- the details are rather dizzying so let's skip them for now -- he wrote:
"We have, as certainly belonging to the tachygraphy of this 3rd century, the small crossbar horizontally placed on an upright stem (in the familiar sense I think of AUT-), from forms common to the waxen-book, to this third-century papyrus, and to the scanty contents of the four Leipzig fragments, though not in the Rainer fragments. These [here a footnote shows the tachygraphical characters themselves] give the readings of AUTOUS, AUTON, AUTA or AUTO, and AUTOCHQON or some such word. But all these, like the last, are merely possible, for this may be an advanced stage of the system before us, and in dealing with such tachygraphy, a posteriori inferences, as we have seen, are almost worthless."
Well, you must see where I'm going with these tidbits: maybe Luke used ambiguous tachygraphy in 2:22, perhaps meaning AUTHS but allowing readers to interpret it as AUTWN, AUTOU, or AUTHS. This conjecture accounts for all its rival variants and does not seem to raise any new interpretive issues.

Yours in Christ,

James Snapp, Jr.

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