Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ligatures - Tachygraphy (2)

Tachygraphy Backgrounder:

E.M. Thompson,  
Handbook Of Greek and Latin Palaeography,

(1893) p. 71-74:


Greek (p.71-4)

Although the subject of shorthand writing does not concern the study of palaeography very nearly, it calls for a brief notice, inasmuch as there is some connexion between its symbols and certain of those employed in the abbreviations and contractions of ordinary MSS., and as tachygraphic signs themselves are occasionally used by scribes and annotators ; and, furthermore, there are in existence a certain number of MSS., both Greek and Latin, written in shorthand systems.
First, as to shorthand systems among the Greeks, we are at once involved in difficulties. For the question whether they possessed a system of true tachygraphy, that is of a shorthand capable of keeping pace with human speech, still remains to be solved. There were, as we know from existing records, both as early as the fourth century B.C. and in the early centuries of the Christian era, as well as in the middle ages, systems whereby words could be expressed in shortened form by signs or groups of signs occupying less space than the ordinary long-hand. But these systems seem to have been rather in the nature of shortened writing, than of the tachygraphic script which we know as shorthand. It is true that a passage in Diogenes Laertius was formerly interpreted to imply that Xenophon wrote shorthand notes (υποσημειωσαμενος) of the lectures of Socrates ; but a similar expression elsewhere, which will not bear this meaning, has caused the idea to be abandoned. The first undoubted mention of a Greek writer of what may be shorthand occurs in a passage in Galen (περι των ιδιων βιβλιων γραφη), wherein he refers to a copy made by one who could write swiftly in signs, δια σημειων εις ταχος γραφειν; but whether in this instance a shortened form of writing, brachygraphy, or a true tachygraphy is implied, we have no means of ascertaining.
The surviving records of the Greek systems have been divided into three groups. At the head of the first group, which embraces all that has been found dating down to the third century A.D., stands the fragment of an inscription, discovered at Athens in 1884, which is ascribed to the fourth century B.C. The inscription describes a system whereby certain vowels ami consonants can be expressed by strokes placed in various positions. But in this instance, also, it has been maintained that a system of brachygraphy and not one of tachygraphy is referred to. 1 A few papyri of the second and third centuries also belong to the group ; but the most important member is a waxed book of several leaves, in the British Museum (Add. MS. 33270), of the third century, inscribed with characters which are inferred to be in Greek shorthand, the only words written in ordinary letters being in that language. This important MS. appears to be the exercise book of a shorthand scholar who has covered its pages with symbols, which in places are repeated again and again, as if for practice. Here we may at length have a system of true tachygraphy ; but as yet the symbols remain undeciphered. 2
The second group is confined to a few fragmentary papyri and tablets, from the fourth to the eighth century, chiefly among the Rainer collection in Vienna, to which Professor Wessely has given much attention. 3
The third group stands quite apart from the others, and is representative of the system of the tenth century. First is the Paris MS. of Hermogenes, containing some marginal notes in mixed ordinary and tachygraphical characters, of which Montfaucon 4 gives an account with a table of forms. Next, there is a series of MSS. which owe their origin to the monastery of Grotta Ferrata, viz. the Add. MS. 18231 of the British Museum, written in the year 972, and others of the same period (Pal. Soc. ii. 28, 85, 86), which are full of partially tachygraphic texts and scholia and also contain passages in shorthand symbols. And lastly there is the Vatican MS. 1809, a volume of which forty-seven pages are covered with tachygraphic writing of the eleventh century, which have been made the subject of special study by Dr. Gitlbauer for the Vienna Academy. 5 Here, again, it appears that the mediaeval system of the third group is not one of true tachygraphy, but a syllabic system, having little advantage over ordinary writing in respect of speed, but capable of ensuring the packing of a lai'ger amount of text into a given space. It is therefore not regarded as a developement of any ancient system, but rather as a petrified fragment, as it has been called, of an earlier and better system.
Other varieties or phases of Greek shorthand, of a later time, have been traced. Some shorthand passages which occur in a fourteenthcentury M.S.. and a passage from a fifteenth-century MS. in the Vatican, have recently been published. 6

According to Suetonius, 7 the first introduction of shorthand signs, notae, in Rome was due to Ennius ; but more generally the name of Cicero's freedman, Tiro, is associated with the invention, the symbols being commonly named notae Tironianae. Seneca is said to have collected the various notae known at his time, to the number of five thousand. Shorthand appears to have been taught in schools under the Empire ; and the Emperor Titus himself is said to have been expert in writing it. There seems to have been some connexion between Greek and Latin tachygraphy, certain symbols being the same in both.
The Tironian notes belonged to a system which was actually tachygraphic: each word was represented by an independent character, alphabetic in origin, but with an ideographic value. In the mediaeval forms in which they have descended to us, they have probably been amplified from simpler and more comprehensive shapes of ancient date, having received diacritical additions after the practice of the system had died out, and when the study of the notes had become a mere antiquarian pursuit.
There are no documents of very ancient date in Tironian notes. But the tradition of their employment survived in the Merovingian and Carolingian chanceries of the Prankish Empire, where a limited use of them was made in the royal diplomas, indicating briefly, e.g. the composition of the deed, the name of the person moving for it, that of the revising official, etc., perhaps as safeguards against forgery. Under the Carolingian line they were more largely employed, and official MSS. were written in these characters as, e.g.. the formulary of Louis the Pious. They are found worked into the subscriptions and other formal parts of royal deeds down to the end of the ninth century; and so customary had their employment become in those positions, that the scribes continued to imitate them after they had forgotten their meaning.
In literature the Tironian notes were adopted in the ninth and tenth centuries by the revisers and annutators of texts. For example, the scholia and glosses in a MS. of Virgil, at Berne, of the latter half of the ninth century (Pal. Soc. ii. 1:2) are partially written in these signs.
Of the same period also are several 31 SS. of the Psalter written in these characters, which it has been suggested were composed for practice ; and the survival of Tironian lexicons, or collections of the signs, copied at this time, seems to point to an effort to keep them in the recollection of men. A syllabic system, composed of Tironian notes and other independent signs, has been found in use in documents of North Italy of the tenth century ; and has been recognized as the system employed by Gerbert d'Aurillac, Abbot of Bobbio in 982 and afterwards Pope Silvester II. Traces of similar systems in France and Spain have also been discovered. But artificial revivals of systems which have lost their real vitality can only prove spasmodic and abortive. Even the pretentious vanity of the scribes could not protract the use of the notes, and they disappeared entirely in the eleventh century. 8

1. Gomperz, Ueber ein bisher unbekanntes griech. Schriftsystem aus tier Mitte des vierten vorchristlichen Jahrunderts (Vienna Academy), 1884, anil Neue Bemerkungen 1895. See also P. Mitzschke, Eine griech.Kurzschrift aus dem vierten Jahrhundert, in the Archie fur Stenographie, no. 434.
2. See F. W. G. Foat, On old Greek Tachygraphy (Journ. Hi-Hen. Studies, xxi), giving a full bibliography, 1901.
3. Ein System altgriech. Tachygraphie (Vienna Acad.), 1896.
4. Palaeoyr. Graec. 351.
5. Die drei Systems der griech. Tachygraphie (Vienna Acad.), 1896.
6. T. W. Allen, Fourteenth Century Tachygraphy, the Journal of Hellenic Studies, xi. 286 ; Desrousseaux, Sur quelques Manuscrits d'Italie, Melanges of the Ecole Francaise de Rome. 1886. p. 544.
7. 'Vulgares notas Ennius primus mille et centum invenit.'
8. E. Chatelain, Introduction a la lecture des Notes Tironiennes (with 18 plates , 1900, gives a full bibliography of the subject.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ligatures and Tachygraphy

There is an intimate relationship between the ligatures (connected writing) introduced in the 8th century A.D. alongside the Minuscule script, and longstanding Tachygraphy practices (shorthand, symbols) among Greeks and Romans.

The first and most obvious case of tachygraphy (shorthand) is the Abbreviations and Symbols used for the Sacred Names (Nomina Sacra), which were introduced way back in the 2nd century at the start of the spread of Christianity.  These are found in just about every early surviving manuscript.   But only a handful of words were so shortened.  Things didn't apparently proceed much further than that for many centuries, even though Roman tachygraphy (shorthand) was known and practiced by military and governments even from the time of Jesus.

But in the 8th century with the development of a formal and organized minuscule script (smaller connected handwriting), the opportunity was taken to make extensive use of many special symbols, which represented common letter combos and were easy to write and rapid to execute on parchment.
Here are a good selection of samples, without which it would be hard to read many later copies of the NT writings:

By Ligatures are meant combinations of letters made for the sake of speed-writing rather than symbols encompassing the meaning of a word or words (i.e., Abbreviations & Symbols.  For those see further below):

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Ligatures were made according to set rules, which were almost always followed in early minuscule MS (8th cent.).  As uncial letter forms were mixed in with pure minuscule (for instance beta, kappa, pi), ligatures were created combining both forms.  In some case super-positioning (placing one letter above another) created yet more new forms.  - Source: B.A. van Groningen, Short Manual of Greek Palaeography, (Leiden: 1940)

We have enlarged and enhanced the original scans from the fordham.edu website, for readability.  Just click on them to see the examples better.

The following abbreviations and symbols (representing meanings of words/concepts) and examples of actual tachygraphy will also be extremely useful:

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Tachygraphy Symbols (Shorthand) often repeated words


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Sudden Conquest of the Minuscule Script c. 780-820 A.D.

Upensky Gospels MS: GA-461 (c. 820) - Sample page

I am borrowing this great excerpt on the Upensky Gospels to open the discussion:
"The earliest surviving dated example of Greek minuscule is the Uspensky Gospels manuscript. The codex was probably written in Constantinople by monk named Nicholas. Later it belonged to the monastery of Great Lavra of St. Sabas, known in Arabic as Mar Saba, a Greek Orthodox monastery overlooking the Kidron Valley in the West Bank, east of Bethlehem in Palestine. In 1844 bishop Porphiryj Uspienski took it along with other manuscripts, including a portion of the Codex Coislinianus, to Russia. The Uspensky Gospels MS is preserved in the National Library of Russia in St Petersburg (Gr. 219. 213. 101)." ( - from Cave Paintings to the Internet)

Further enlightenment on the changeover comes from Reynolds & Wilson:

"As the script of this book (GA 461) is by no means immature or primitive, the adoption of this style should probably be dated at least half a century earlier. The place of its origin is not known for certain, but there are some grounds for thinking that it was popularized by members of the important Stoudios monastery in the capital [Constantinople], which a was a well-known centre of book production at a later date. Gradually the uncial hand was abandoned, and by the end of the 10th century it was no longer used except for a few special liturgical books. The new script facilitated the copying of texts by making more economical use of parchment . . . .

"The transliteration of old uncial books into the new script was energetically undertaken by the scholars of the 9th century. It is largely owing to their activity that Greek literature can still be read, for the text of almost all authors depends ultimately on one or more books written in minuscule script at this date or shortly after, from which all later copies are derived; the quantity of literature that is available to us from the papyri and the uncial manuscripts is only a small proportion of the whole. In the process of transliteration mistakes were sometimes made, especially by misreading letters that were similar in the uncial script and therefore easily confused. 
The Changeover Process:
At many points in Greek texts there are errors common to all the extant manuscripts which appear to be derived from the same source, and this source is usually taken to be a ninth-century copy. 
A further assumption generally made is that one minuscule copy was made from one uncial copy. The uncial book was then discarded, and the minuscule book became the source of all further copies. The theory has a certain a priori justification on two grounds, since the task of transliteration from a script that was becoming less and less familiar would not be willingly undertaken more often than was absolutely necessary, and there is at least some likelihod that after the destruction of the previous centuries many texts survived in one copy only. But these arguments do not amount to proof, and there are cases which can only be explained by more complicated hypotheses" (Reynolds & Wilson, Scribes and Scholars 3rd ed ([1991] 59-60).


Uncial Talk (1) Greek and Latin - M. Drogin

In TC, there is often a lot of vague talk and inaccurate use of various terms regarding scripts and styles.   We seek to expand our knowledge of the background with a series here on the various scripts, starting with Uncials.   Sometimes we see "Uncial" and "majuscule" used interchangeably, but I think we can gain precision by consulting those historical investigators of calligraphy.   For openers, I will quote a nice introduction by Marc Drogin, from his book, Medieval Calligraphy (1980):

 Uncial Script - 3rd to 6th Century

Brief History

"In the 1st and 2nd centuries the scribes of Europe wrote most formally in Roman Square Capital and less formally and more conveniently in Roman Rustic.

ROMAN RUSTIC CAPITALS   ca. 4th century

From the square Roman capitals (preserved on the plinth of Trajan’s Column (114 AD),
developed the freer-form and slightly more condensed Rustic capitals. 

Their subject matter was almost wholly non-Christian.  In Rome, Greek manuscripts predominated, since Latin had yet to become the official Church language.  With the demand for church-related manuscripts, it was probable that the primary source was the intellectual community of North Africa, where Latin was the literary language of the Church and the population knew both Latin and Greek.  The scribes there sought an appropriately dramatic Latin script suitable to the importance of their new religion, but some changes had to be made so such a script could be produced more rapidly to fill the demand for manuscripts.  Since the pen more easily and rapidly produces curves than straight lines and angles, scribes began adopting some of the round strokes which were a hallmark of the formal Greek script since the 3rd century B.C.

This adaptation resulted late in the 2nd or early in the 3rd century in a script as majuscule and important as Roman Rustic, but now with its letters wide and curved, reminiscent of the finest Greek formation.  When the Church in Rome adopted Latin as its official language and sought to represent itself in a script both different from the pagan literature's Roman Rustic but familiar to people accustomed to that script or accustomed to Greek-Uncial, a formal but quick script was the obvious  choice.  By the 4th century it had become an established script for manuscripts of importance, and by the end of the 5th century it had eclipsed the pagan scripts and reigned supreme."  (Drogin, p. 93)

Latin Cod. Bobbiensis (k) (c. 400 A.D.)

Latin Uncial  -  circa 5th century

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MS GA-087 - Θc (6th cent) - Click to Enlarge


Monday, March 21, 2011

Codex W and Greek Enoch? ...I don't think so

In his palaeographic analysis, Sanders (1912) compared Codex W to several older Greek manuscripts, including P. Cair. 10759. (Greek Enoch, Gosp.Peter etc.).  To give a standard sample for manuscripts of this early period, we offer the following example, P. Chester Beatty XII, leaf 3:
Typical earlier Greek Papyrus:  Click to Enlarge
The first thing to note about early calligraphy, is the startling difference between using a soft brush or reed (earlier papyri) and using a hard nib or quill (4th - 5th century and beyond).   This stylizes the writing more than any other single factor.   Its the difference between painting, which is soft and blob-like, allowing the ink/paint to flow and leading it with the brush, versus the firm and hard controlled strokes of the pen, using a thinner more ink-like medium.

paint-brush versus quill  - Click to Enlarge

This softer paint-like writing was practically necessary, because of the relative roughness and fragility of papyrus, which was a primitive paper-like material, as opposed to later parchment and vellum (animal skins).

It is true that sometimes the early Egyptian scribe using papyrus would give a slight to moderate tilt or angle to the letters, but this varies from scribe to scribe, and can hardly be defined even as a conscious choice.   The tilt is probably based on practical factors like right- or left-handedness, and not issues of style at all.   The early slight to moderate tilt may be quite noticeable in more extreme cases, but does not seem to be a choice based on anything but writing convenience and speed.   There is no dispute however, that slanted writing was popular quite early, as a few samples of P45 can illustrate:

P45 - Click to Enlarge
Again, the thickness of the letters may vary widely, from elegant like this, to bloated and clumsy, but the same 'painted on' look dominates the calligraphic style and feel, regardless of incidentals like letter-shape or tilt.   As well, P45 (or the group of pages so designated) involves a variety of books and hands, all dated roughly to the 3rd century, of which only Luke/Acts is tilted.   It is not possible to make any conclusion at all regarding date based on tilt or angle of writing.

 P45 wasn't available to Sanders (P45 was discovered in 1930), but probably would have been preferred by him as an example of early slanted writing over the Greek Enoch fragments from P. Cair. 10759 below:

Papyrus Cairo 10759
Gospel of Peter  (Click to Enlarge)
Enoch (Click to Enlarge)
 P. Cair. 10759 also spans several books and hands, but the Enoch pages have the closest similarity to Codex W.   Of particular interest is one feature, namely the variation in line thickness based on the angle of the 'nib' or quill used to write the letters.   This itself seems to suggest a much later date for this section of 10759, than may have been at first assigned to it.   The other pages (e.g. Peter) show instead the typical 'painted on' look of a brush-like implement or soft quill.   Indeed, Enoch resembles more the typical hand of the late 3rd or 4th century scriptorium than the early papyri.

We have already referred to Schmid's excellent and thorough article in  The Freer Biblical Manuscripts (2006), Ed. Larry W. Hurtado, and we will quote his passage of Sanders here:
"Hand 'c' [of Enoch] bears a much closer resemblance to the hands of W...The ease, grace, and slope of the hand remind one strongly of the first hand of W, but the shapes of many of the letters, notably  γ ε κ μ σ ω  are far closer to [the 1st quire of John in W]. I see no reason for not considering the two hands of the Enoch fragment contemporary.  It [Enoch] has been dated to the 6th century, but though both hands are somewhat more developed types than the hands of W, I should not place the date later than the end of the 5th [century]." (Sanders, 137-8, in Schmid, p. 239)
Here Sanders is already jockeying to secure an earlier date for his Codex W, but the problem of the anachronism of P. Cair. 10759 is quite glaring!  -  It has already been dated to the 6th century A.D., and yet it is probably the closest thing to Quire 1 of John in Codex W we are ever going to find.  In other words, despite Sanders' cleverness, this is really evidence for dating W to the 6th century palaeographically, not the 5th century.

And if so, trying to make Codex W the archetype of other 5th/6th century witnesses is a naive and flimsy proposal.   But why does it matter?   Because Codex W is now no longer an early "4th or 5th century" witness to other palaeographic features, such as outdented and enlarged letters, slanted varying-width styles, etc.  - But rather, a very late witness.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Redating Codex W based on the Obvious...

Click to Enlarge: Use Backbutton to return
Consider if you will, Codex W.  This is a surprisingly handsome and refreshing codex, with its own distinct style of "slanted Uncial" script.  Although not unique, it certainly stands out in a crowd of 4th to 6th century manuscripts, for this striking feature alone.   As well, one must consider the great shape the codex is in, something not so obvious from the poor quality photos of the past.  But, apart from the appearance of heavily burnt edges on every page, the bulk of both the parchment and the text itself is quite excellent, almost 'new' looking by comparison with many a fade page of other manuscripts, including the likes of Sinaiticus and Vaticanus (4th century).   Recently, the better quality photos available at CNTSM etc. have allowed a much kinder view of the manuscript.
Like Codex Sinaiticus, the seeming 'newness' of the MS raises an eyebrow next to others of supposed similar date.
Even the burnt edges look suspiciously like either (relatively recent?) fire-damage, or else the kind of oxidation expected in a harsh but dry climate, but where the book remained closed and unused for centuries, protecting its contents.   Of course, dating any manuscript palaeographically is difficult, and one can only hope for a 50 to 150 year range of plausible dates for its making.  As well, even the so-called "best" manuscripts have murky and suspicious origins, and show a complex history of use, travel, correction and even abuse and neglect by various unknowable hands.

Comparative Palaeography:

One of the best checks and balances available for palaeographical dating estimates is a comparison to other existing documents of better known date and origin.   That is why the little-known last few pages of another manuscript become important...

Turn to Codex Nitriensis now for a moment.  This is a 6th century Greek parchment, scraped off and re-used to copy a Syriac commentary.   It sits in the British Museum.    Most of its text is from Luke, and this part of the manuscript has been dated to the 6th century with strong certainty.

 Sometime between the late 8th and early 9th century AD, Simeon, a monk at the convent of Mar Simeon of Kartamin, copied a Syriac text for Daniel, episcopal visitor (periodeutes) of the district of Amid in Mesopotamia (see notes in Add. MS 17211, ff. 53r and 49r). We owe to this event the partial survival of several older copies of Greek works, since Simeon reused parchment sheets from which Greek text had been scraped or washed off to copy the treatise against Joannes Grammaticus of Caesarea by the author Severus of Antioch. Today, Simeon's Syriac copy survives in two manuscripts at the British Library. The Syriac text has been rebound to reconstruct the sequence of the underlying (scriptio inferior), barely visible Greek texts of a 5th century copy of Homer's Iliad (Add. MS 17210) and a 7th century copy of the Gospel of Luke (Add. MS 17211, ff.1-48) as well as a 7th or 8th century copy of Euclid's Elements (Add. MS 17211, ff.49-53).

Add. MS 17211 is, of course, better known as 'Codex Nitriensis', betraying the fact that Simeon's manuscript once belonged to the convent library of St Mary Deipara in the Nitrian Desert of Egypt. Its text, containing parts the Gospel of Luke, is also known in New Testament scholarly circles under its Gregory-Aland 'number' R or 027.

Many ancient texts survive as palimpsests, the faint remains of texts on reused parchment that sometimes reappear over time or are recovered with the help of modern technology.
 The British Museum gives the following information:
6th century, 'Codex Nitriensis', a palimpsest, 9th century, containing Severus, Patriarch of Antioch, Treatise against John Grammatikos, chapters I-VIII, XX-XXI (Syriac) written over parts of the Gospel of Luke (Greek) (Gregory-Aland R = Gregory-Aland 027)

The style of the writing and caligraphy closely resembles Codex Alexandrinus and portions of Codex Sinaiticus.  Here is a sample:

Codex Nitriensis - Luke: Click to Enlarge

What is rarely noted however, is that the last few pages of this palimpsest have another work hidden under the Syriac, in another script:   Its a fragment of the Elements of Euclid, and it also has been firmly dated, to the 7th or 8th century:

The British Museum describes this portion as follows:
Euclid, Elementa (TLG 1799.001) , books X and XIII (7th century or 8th century)

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How was this date arrived at?   By a knowledge of the scriptorium/monastery where it came from, and most importantly, by the palaeography of its writing!
And that's the point:  This style of writing has been positively identified as 8th century, and it is the very same style of writing as found in Codex W.

Textual critics had originally wanted to date Codex W as much earlier, i.e. 5th century, because of course it was an interesting copy of the Gospels with unusual readings. (It was classed as a "Caesarean" text-type by Streeter etc.).

But palaeographically, this date appears pretty unrealistic, given that the unusual style of writing has been pegged at the 7th or 8th century, at the very location where in the 4th and 5th centuries the style of Alexandrinus was produced instead.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Good quality scans of Codex Bezae

We were so disappointed that the only photos of Codex Bezae (D / 05) Cantabrigiensis were on a Muslim website, that we located better pictures and temporarily posted them here:

Codex Bezae (all 4 gospels/Acts)

You can click on them to enlarge, and they can be saved to disk by right-clicking on the popup high-res photo.  The box will open to the width of your browser, so you can make them bigger if you have the screen space.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mark 1:41 - Why Jesus was angry in codex D

The Textus Receptus reads for Mark 1:41:

ο δε ιησους σπλαγχνισθεις εκτεινας την χειρα ηψατο αυτου και λεγει αυτω θελω καθαρισθητι
'And Jesus having compassion on him, stretched forth his hand; and touching him, saith to him: "I will. Be thou made clean." (Mk 1:41)

 Here we have almost complete agreement among all important witnesses, including Aleph/B): א A B C K L W ΔΘΠ 090 f1 f13 28 33 565 700  892 1009 1010 1071 1079 1195 1216 1230 1241 1242 1253 1344 1365 1546 1646 2148 2174 Byz. Lect. Italic, Vulgate, Syr, copt Goth Arm Geo Diat. etc.

The UBS2 text notes the following variant:

ο δε ιησους οργισθεις εκτεινας την χειρα αυτου ηψατο και λεγει αυτω θελω καθαρισθητι
'And Jesus being angry at him, stretched forth his hand; and touching him, saith to him: "I will. Be thou made clean." (Mk 1:41)

The support is:  D it-a,d,ff2,r1, Ephraem (it-b omits word).

Of course even with this flimsy attestation, the reading creeps into many modern versions due to "overwhelming" internal evidence (a conjectured 'harder reading' using the criterion of embarrassment).

Now however, new evidence has come to light, in part suggested by the strange Old Latin support.   It is found in the previous verse, (Mk 1:40), where the text begins,

και ερχεται προς αυτον λεπρος ...
 And there came a leper to him,... (Mk 1:40)

In several ancient Irish MSS we find the Old Latin/Clementine vulgate reading:

Et venit ad eum leprosus deprecans eum : 

However with the following twist:

Et venit ad eum leprecans eum : 

That is, there was a homoeoteleuton error as follows:

Et venit ad 
   eum lepr
 osus  depr
 ecans eum : 
dropping 8 letters of text and causing a new word to form: leprecans.  
This is a common spelling of the Old Irish word,
c.1600, from Ir. lupracan, metathesis from O.Ir. luchorpan lit. "a very small body," from lu "little" + corpan, dim. of corp "body," from L. corpus "body"
Apparently the early scribe then,  reading:

Jesus autem misertus ejus..., in the sense of "deplore" back-translated / corrected the Greek in Bezae to read:

  οργισθεις  i.e., Jesus "was angry with" or "despised" the Leprechaun, presumably for being mischievous and duplicious.