Should I buy the Tyndale House Edition of the Greek New Testament?

A lot has happened over the last 5 weeks or so since the launch of the THGNT. We have received some very friendly and encouraging feedback, but also a good number of questions. Thanks for all of those, they are much appreciated.

The one question that is asked perhaps most frequently is this one, ‘I already have X, should I also buy the Tyndale House Edition?’ Allow me to give you a few thoughts – you can decide for yourself afterwards.

  • The THGNT is designed for reading. ‘Of course,’ you would say, ‘every book is.’ True, but a good old-fashioned encyclopedia does not invite the reader to keep on reading. Form is part of the message, and the THGNT is not an encyclopedia and it does not present encyclopedic knowledge of the Greek textual transmission, even though there is a lot of knowledge behind it. The THGNT presents the text with as few interruptions as possible, helping you concentrate on what the text is about – to be read and to be understood. And it does so without ignoring the textual transmission, on the contrary.
  • The THGNT is beautiful. To a large degree this is due to the publisher’s effort and their final designs. But simple beauty in printing does something: you get that moment of pleasure when you pick it up. It attracts rather than radiates functionalism. Tolle lege.
  • The THGNT surprises. This is what Scripture does in general, yet it is remarkable how details such as a different paragraphing allows us to see things in a new light. I have seen comments where a non-standard spelling led someone on a fruitful train of thought. And instead of ‘switching off’ when any NT author is citing the OT, we actually read what is quoted since there is no visual separation between citation and the story or the argument. And this brings us to the next point.
  • The THGNT is a tool, just as the ‘X’ you already have. Every tool is designed for a particular job (have you ever seen a carpenter with only a single hammer?) We all know that Swiss Army knives are a great idea and at times quite handy when travelling, but despite their name, you could not defend the country with them. For many students, teachers, and scholars, the printed text of Scripture is one of the basic ‘tools’; is it asking too much asking to invest in a good set of tools? Or is this the one area where we are reluctant to put our money where our mouth is?
  • The THGNT is gentle (yes, a very bad pun on the text of 1 Thes 2:7). There is an educational benefit in reading the text on a page where almost all of the information on display can be understood with just a little effort. We want to take people by the hand and rediscover the joy of reading the NT in its original language. Too often students give up their Greek at about the point when it becomes fun and beneficial. Why? Perhaps in part because they are intimidated by their editions which tell them implicitly, ‘There is too much here for you to understand’. Sometimes less is more, and this is a case in point.

I have not gone into any of the scholarly reasons for using the Tyndale House Edition, there are those as well (and they stand at the very heart of the project). But the reasons above you can all test for yourself.


Where does the Parable of the Sower begin? (Mark 4:3)

By Peter J. Williams, Associate Editor

The Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge published this month by Crossway and Cambridge University Press is the first printed edition of the Greek New Testament to take all its paragraph marks from early manuscripts.

Most ancient manuscripts of the New Testament contained some sort of paragraph marks. Two common methods of paragraphing were putting the first letter of a line out into the margin (called ekthesis) and putting a small horizontal line (called a paragraphos) above the first word of a new section. In addition spaces of various sizes could be left at the end of a section.

In our edition we decided only to accept paragraph divisions based on early manuscripts.

This led us to a surprising conclusion in Mark 4:3 where Jesus begins the Parable of the Sower: we decided we had to put the paragraph mark after the first word of Jesus’s speech.

The text runs literally like this:

4:2 ‘and he [Jesus] was teaching them many things in parables and was saying to them in his teaching, 4:3 “Listen. Look. The sower went out to sow.”’

The Greek word “Listen” is akouete (related to the word acoustic).

The Greek word for “Look” is idou (distantly related to the word video).

In our edition we put the paragraph mark after “Listen,” following the earliest Greek manuscripts of this passage. Codex Sinaiticus (pictured right, see right hand column lines 5 and 6) from the Fourth Century and Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Bezae from the Fifth Century all have clear paragraph marks here. So probably does Codex Vaticanus, from the Fourth Century, which has a paragraphos added by a later hand. The remaining manuscript Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus from the Fifth Century has a line break here, but no clear sign of paragraph division.

What’s so surprising is that these manuscripts don’t otherwise appear to be particularly closely related in other textual features. Codex Bezae (with ekthesis at line 4, pictured right) is quite different otherwise from Codex Sinaiticus. This raises the question of whether the paragraph mark is in fact a shared inheritance from when the Gospel of Mark was first written or circulated.

This paragraph division makes for a much more engaging opening. No longer do Jesus’s instructions to listen and look run together in a blend of the aural and visual. Rather the text provides us first with Jesus’s address to his hearers:

“Listen up”

Now they’re listening, he begins his story:

“Look. Use the eye of your imagination and see the sower is going out and sowing.”

For more details and pictures of the manuscripts, see here.

From 15 November, the new edition of the Greek New Testament is available from Crossway as well as Amazon.




One of the claims we’re making in the THGNT is that at the time of the New Testament there was a distinction (or at least a partially preserved distinction) between short and long [i], with the latter sometimes represented by ει. In due time we’ll publish more data backing up this claim. Here I’ll just start with the spelling of the word γίνομαι which in Luke we believe should be spelled γεινομαι, or blending later accent with earlier letters (we explain how accents and letters are separate ‘layers’ in our edition) γείνομαι. Here are some data on early spelling.

Luke 6:36 γειν P75 01 02 03 05 but γιγν 032
Luke 9:7 γειν P75(vid) 01 03 05 032 but γιν 04
Luke 11:26 γειν P75 02 03 05 032 but γιν 01
Luke 12:40 γειν P75 02 03 05 032 but γιν 01
Luke 12:54 γειν P45 P75 01 02 03 05 032
Luke 12:55 γειν P45 P75 01 02 03 05 032
Luke 13:17 γειν P45 P75 02 05 032 (03’s reading γεν- better explained from γειν- than γιν)
Luke 15:10 γειν P75 01 02 03 032
Luke 19:19 γειν 01 02 03 05
Luke 20:33 γειν 02 03 032
Luke 21:7 γειν 01 02 03 032
Luke 21:28 γειν 01 02 03 04 05 032
Luke 21:31 γειν 01 02 03 032 but γιν 04
Luke 21:36 γειν 01 02 03 05 but γιν 04 032
Luke 22:26 γειν 01 03 05 (γεν P75 02 032)
Luke 22:42 γειν P75 01 02 03 but γιν 032 (γεν 05)
Luke 23:8 γειν P75 01 02 03 05 032
  • The earliest witnesses P45 and P75 always support γειν
  • γιν is only supported by 01 04 032, of which we know that 01 has an overwhelming preference for iota in many instances where other mss have epsilon-iota. 04 is fifth century and sometimes supports epsilon iota and 032 may not be as early as the rest and still favours γειν more often than γιν.
  • Against the 3 relatively weak witnesses for γιν we have 7 for γειν.
  • In only 6 of the 17 occurrences in Luke is there earlyish support for γιν. In the rest there is none.
γεινομαι was the normal spelling in Luke. It’s not a misspelling, but a prestigious koine spelling used by careful scribes to bring out the long vowel which arose when the second gamma of the Classical form γιγνομαι was dropped. You can call it a ‘historic spelling’ if you like and claim it has nothing to do with pronunciation, but that just makes the scribes smarter that they were able to preserve into the fourth and fifth centuries spellings representing pronunciations which were no longer current.
And finally
There is one incredibly overused word in this context, which is the word itacism. We can only claim that such has occurred when we understand the standard and conventions which scribes were seeking to attain and are able to demonstrate that they missed it. Itacism certainly occurs often enough in some mss, e.g. 01, but many instances when this is claimed are nothing of the sort.

Why give Abraham a rough breathing?

The question of whether to give Abraham a rough or smooth breathing is difficult. Manuscripts differ. We could say that it begins with aleph and that aleph = smooth breathing. The problem with this is that it’s sheer prejudice. We don’t have data which show a regular alignment between aleph and smooth breathing. OK, you say, but rough breathing = aspiration, and we know from lots of languages, the original Hebrew, and the NT versions of Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, Latin, Syriac, etc., that it wasn’t represented by aspiration in those scripts. Fair point, but it still doesn’t settle the question of how it was (a) pronounced in Greek; (b) written by educated scribes.

Look at Liddell and Scott and you’ll see that, if you exclude alpha privatives, ἁβρ- (perhaps with the rough breathing representing Proto-Indoeuropean s) is a more common Greek word beginning than ἀβρ-, so why should Greek not use the rough breathing here and make Abraham sound a little more native?

Now look at some manuscripts for Matthew 1:1 and note the first 12 sources I come across.

B 35 689 690 774 1418 2278 2414 read rough

478 481 1424 read smooth

688 has one of each!

Look at Gal 3:29 and check some different sources as well as some of the same:

B 35 69 104 319 757 2298 read rough

D (06) 1424 read smooth

So it seems that the rough breathing is preponderant. How do we decide which to print? That’s tough, but we know that the accentor of B was really smart and I value him more than the accentor of D (Claromontanus). So with a bit of hesitation, we choose the rough breathing as representing the stronger learned tradition for Greek breathings. Now we’re not thereby saying that anyone ever pronounced this with aspiration. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. Nor are we saying that this was pronounced with aspiration at the time of the NT. We’re just saying this: if you’re going to bother having breathings at all, they need to be there to give readers historical information which comes from manuscripts rather than from the heads of editors. Any reader who’s studied Hebrew knows that Abraham’s name in Hebrew begins with an aleph. They don’t need an NT editor to tell them that. What may be of more interest is for them to know that the strongest learned tradition of breathing in Greek is for Abraham to have a rough breathing.

What we’re printing here is not odd or a novelty. It was also what Erasmus printed and other early editions of the TR (which of course were closely based on the manuscripts available at the time). It’s also what you’ll sometimes find, for instance, in Niese’s edition of Josephus that Abraham is Ἅβραμος, given not only the nice Greek ending, but the nice Greek beginning of a rough breathing, in line with the mss.

So in making an edition where we try to model everything we can off the manuscripts we decided on balance to use a rough breathing for this name. It’s not necessarily a big deal, except that users may like to know that thought, care, and above all, documentary evidence has gone into decisions like these.


Removing a ‘venerable absurdity’* of spelling: Luke 22.24 and 1 Corinthians 11.16

All editions of the Greek New Testament read φιλονεικία ‘love of victory, contentiousness’ (Luke 22:24) and φιλόνεικος ‘loving victory, contentious’ (1 Corinthians 11:16).

All editions, that is, except one: The Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge. As we shall see below, these spellings with <ει> are very curious and have become entrenched in successive New Testament editions without foundation in the earliest manuscripts. This is more than a matter of Koiné Greek, like Modern Greek, having fewer vowels than Classical Greek and its alphabet, a situation, which results in phonetic spellings (misspellings, from a Classical point of view, often called ‘itacisms’) with <ι> and <η> and <ει> confused, or <οι> and <υ>, or <ο> and <ω>, or <ε> and <αι> (cf. the currency of both ‘archeology’ and ‘archaeology’, which are pronounced alike and reflect Greek ἀρχαιολογία). As a result of my research on non-Classical spellings in the earliest witnesses to the New Testament text (the papyri and the early uncials) and, in particular, on <ει> written for etymologically-long <ι>, we printed φιλονικία (Luke 22:24), but kept φιλόνεικος at (1 Corinthians 11:16).

We have here an adjective meaning ‘loving victory, contentious’, which is a compound of the stems seen φίλος ‘dear, friendly’ and νί̄κη ‘victory’, and from that compound we have a derivative – an abstract noun – that means ‘love of victory, contentiousness’. The spelling with <ει> may have been influenced by another noun, νεῖκος ‘strife, contention, quarrel’, which is found, for example, at Proverbs 10:12:

μῖσος ἐγείρει νεῖκος,
πάντας δὲ τοὺς μὴ φιλονεικοῦντας καλύπτει φιλία.
‘Hatred stirs up contention, but love covers over all who are not contentious.’

‘Loving victory, contentious’ and ‘loving strife, contentious’ overlap somewhat in meaning. As a further source of confusion, beside νί̄κη there is νῖκος ‘victory’, as in 1 Corinthians 15:54, 55, and 57, for example.

Before turning to the linguistics and philology of these New Testament words and passages, let us review their treatment in earlier editions (with Luke first in each edition, then 1 Corinthians).

1521 Erasmus (via Bibles-online)

1550 Stephanus
1588 Beza

1707 Mill

(all via The Centre for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts)

Then, there’s Tregelles (Luke 22:24, 1 Corinthians 11:16) and Tischendorf (Luke 22:24, 1 Corinthians 11:16), both with φιλονεικία and φιλόνεικος, and a synopsis, via Biblegateway, of Westcott and Hort, Scrivener, and the 2010 SBL Greek New Testament, all with the <ει> spelling in both words. All of the Nestle(-Aland) and UBS editions that I have been able to consult also have φιλονεικία and φιλόνεικος, as does Alexander Souter’s 1916 Oxford edition. The same <ει> spellings are found also in R.G. Tasker’s 1964 Oxford and Cambridge edition of the Greek text translated as The New English Bible of 1961.

It has long been known that the (etymologically) ‘correct’ spelling of the adjective and the abstract noun has <ι>, not <ει>, in contrast to all the printed editions that I have been able to consult. The Greek-English Lexicon of Liddell and Scott, revised and augmented by Jones (LSJ) ‘with the assistance of McKenzie’, explains the situation s.v. φιλόνικος:

(In codd.
the forms φιλόνικος, -νικέω, -νικία and φιλόνεικος, -νεικέω, -νεικία
occur, without any distn. of meaning, e.g. in Isoc. we find περὶ τῶν
καλλίστων ἐφιλονίκησαν
, but τὰς θεὰς περὶ τοῦ κάλλους φιλονεικού-
; μὴ δύσερις ὢν . . , μηδὲ πρὸς πάντας φιλόνικος 1.31; τῆς
πρὸς ἡμᾶς φιλονικίας
, but φιλονεικία in the same sense, 12.158;
φιλόνῑκος is implied by Arist.Rh.1389a12 (where -νεικ-, though
found in good codd., as also in 1363b1, 1368b21, 1370b33, Phgn.
, must be f.l.), καὶ φιλότιμοι μέν εἰσι [οἱ νέοι], μᾶλλον δὲ φιλόνικοι·
ὑπεροχῆς γὰρ ἐπιθυμεῖ ἡ νεότης· ἡ δὲ νίκη ὑπεροχή τις,
cf. Poll.
, AB315; the compd. of φιλο- and νεῖκος would be *φιλονεικής;
the sense contentious arises naturally from fond of victory; in SIG
(v. φιλονικία sub fin. <Magn. Mae., ii B. C., found in Crete>) we have φιλονικίαν Il.12,36
, and φιλονικίᾳ
in OGI335.7 (Pergam., decree of Pitane, ii B. C.); -νῑκ- is also found
in late documents, as POxy.157.1 (vi A. D.).)

The 1959 publication of P.Oxy. XXV 2432 (1st. c. BCE/1st c. CE), which preserves lyric poetry that may be by Simonides, provided further evidence for the <ι> spelling closer in date to the New Testament period. Here’s line 11 from Simonides 541 PMG, ]..ΘΑΛΟΙΤΕ φιλονικίαι:

(LS8 gave φιλόνεικος as its headword, but included a lengthy discussion. I think that it is less likely that ‘loving strife’ could have a ‘good sense’ (see LS8/LSJ s.v. 2), but very likely that ‘loving victory’ could be positive or negative. The amount of revision here between LS8 and LSJ both in the headword and in the disquisition on spelling and word-formation may reflect the influence of Roderick ‘with the assistance of’ McKenzie, one of my heroes.)

Then, there’s Bauer-Danker-Ardnt-Gingrich (BDAG), which gives φιλονεικία and φιλόνεικος as its headwords, but rightly notes s.v. φιλονεικία that ‘φιλονεκία is the “correct spelling”‘ (it is ironic that there is a typo at this point, with -νεκ- not -νικ-; Georgacas’ review, cited by Danker, has a typo too: θιλό- for φιλό-). BDAG cites its authorities as Blass-Debrunner-Funk, Liddell-Scott-Jones, Peter Walters (né Katz), and Georgacas, who should be known, among other reasons, for his work of compiling the errata to the third edition of Carl Darling Buck’s, The Greek Dialects (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1955). M.W. Holmes, The Greek New Testament SBL Edition (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010), xii-xiii, followed the orthography of BDAG, but did not follow the correction contained s.v. φιλονεικία. BDAG’s headwords, that is, not orthographic comments, were Holmes’ guide.

It is interesting in itself that editions of the New Testament present a non-Classical spelling, just as some present an etymologically-false aspiration in ἐφ’ ἑλπίδι at Romans 8.20 (e.g. Nestle-Aland 28, with P46 01 03* 06* …) in contrast to Romans 4:18 and 5:2, for example, where, as far as it is reported, the evidence is unanimously in favour of ἐπ’ ἐλπίδι.

The linguistic facts concerning the formation of these two words are as follows. Since the noun νεῖκος -ους (< -εος < *-e(s)os) is part of the s-stem system, it would form an s-stem compound adjective in -ης -ες. Then, an abstract noun from that compound adjective would end in -εια. In other words, we should have νεῖκος, φιλονεικής, and φιλονείκεια, just as we have ἀληθής ‘true’ and ἀλήθεια ‘truth’, with λῆθος ‘forgetfulness’ as their base. Compounds in -νεικής have very little currency as far as we know. The most famous example is the personal name Πολυνείκης ‘Mr Much-Strife’, the name in mythology of Antigone’s brother, whose ‘burial’ is the occasion for Sophocles’ Antigone (which happened to be the Cambridge Greek Play, while I was researching non-Classical spellings in the New Testament). LGPN s.v. reports some historical bearers of this name.

(The authority on s-stem word-formation is T. Meissner, who wrote S-Stem Nouns and Adjectives in Greek and Proto-Indo-European (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), one of my lecturers and now colleagues. On the basis of its Index, I cannot find any other -νεικής compound adjectives. C.D. Buck and W. Petersen, A Reverse Index of Greek Nouns and Adjectives (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1948), 718, lists four such compound adjectives, including πολυνεικής, and a fifth curiosity: late Lesbian-Aeolic dative plural εἰρονείκεσσι (~ *εἰρονεικαισι), cf. its accusative plural εἰρονείκαις; these are ‘misspellings’ of forms of ἱερονί̄κης ου ‘conqueror in the games’ (ἰρονί̄κᾱς ᾱ in Lesbian-Aeolic).

Instead, we have an o-stem, φιλόνεικος -ον, and its expected derivative in -ίᾱ, φιλονεικίᾱ, not one in -ειᾰ as would be expected from an s-stem compound adjective. Note both the spelling and the position of the accent. A compound adjective built on νίκη would have -νῑκος -ον as its second element and would from φιλονικία as a derived abstract noun.

Now to the philology – the study of the texts as preserved in the papyri and manuscripts themselves: the pre-fifth-century witnesses support the ‘correct’ spelling ΦΙΛΟΝΙΚΙΑ at Luke 22:24. Then, the witnesses that have accents present the correspondingly correct accentuation, φιλονικία.

The pre-fifth-century witnesses are:

Papyrus 75 (III c.; and a negative image);

Codex Sinaiticus (IV c.);

and the original text of Codex Vaticanus (IV c.);

(The re-inker of Codex Vaticanus (9th-10th c. CE ?) inserted the ε to give ΦΙΛΟΝεΙΚΙΑ.)

There is also the fifth-century Greek-Coptic diglot known as 029.

Even as late as 779 (XII c.), we find φιλονικία (but we might wonder whether that is an itacism for φιλονεικία):

Fifth-century (and later) witnesses have ΦΙΛΟΝΙΚΕΙΑ. This spelling either reflects a formation from νῖκος, the s-stem counterpart to νί̄κη, or is a ‘mere itacism’, a spelling that reflects loss of distinctions in the Greek vowel system and the emergence of Modern Greek pronunciation:

Codex Alexandrinus (V c.);

Codex Bezae (V c.);

Codex Washingtonianus (IV/V c., but perhaps later still);

and the uncial known as 022 (VI c.).

(Codex Ephraemi Resciptus is deficient at this passage.)

There are no witnesses for ΦΙΛΟΝΕΙΚΕΙΑ, the etymologically-correct derivative of an adjective composed from φίλος and νεῖκος.

Once manuscripts were accented, we find the ‘incorrect’ spelling φιλονεικία, but the correct accentuation (33 ‘the queen of the minuscules’ is deficient at this point):

8 (XI c.);

27 (X c.);

35 (XI c.);

69 (XV c.);

115 (X c.);

478 (X c.);

688 (XII c.);

689 (XIII c.);

690 (XIV c.), which reads φίλον οἱ κεία (! Perhaps read φίλον οἰκεία ~ οἰκία);

757 (XIII c.);

774 (XI c.);CSNTM Image Id: 254669 CSNTM Image Name: GA_774_0251a.JPG

1418 (XII c.);

1424 (IX/X c.);

2278 (XIV c.);

and 2907 (X c.; the line begins Λονεικία, cf. 8 above).

Here, we have the manuscript evidence for the spelling we have seen in print since Erasmus. Again, there is no evidence for φιλονείκεια, the s-stem system’s abstract noun either in accentuation or in spelling.

1 Corinthians 11:16 is more complex in that there is good early evidence for -νεικος (particularly, the original text of Codex Vaticanus, in contrast to its text at Luke 22:24) and, unlike the noun, accentuation cannot be a guide with the adjective. The etymologically-correct spelling has the support of:

Papyrus 46 (III c.);

Codex Sinaiticus (IV c.);

The original text of the Greek of Codex Claromontanus (VI c.; the corrected text includes the insertion of an <ε>);

Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (V c.; after a fashion: ΦΕΙΛΟΝΙΚΟΣ helpfully begins in the gap between the two columns of overtext).

On the other hand, the spelling with <ει> has the support of:

The original (and re-inked) text of Codex Vaticanus (IV c.);

Codex Alexandrinus (V c.);

and the corrected text of the Greek of Codex Claromontanus (VII c. or later; see above).

Codex Vaticanus, then shows different spellings for these two related words. This manuscript shows a strong tendency (that is etymologically correct to an astounding extent) to write <ει> for etymologically long <ι>. That means that φιλόνεικος is Vaticanus’ way of writing φιλόνῑκος, but also, more importantly, that its use of the spelling φιλονικία at Luke 22:24 is a remarkable exception to its usual practice and has extra weight as evidence for simple iota, not epsilon-iota.

Our practice was to print non-Classical spellings (or, in this case to depart from the spelling that has become traditional in New Testament editions) when ‘2+’ early (5th c. or earlier) witnesses provided evidence for a non-Classical/non-traditional spelling. At Luke 22:24, the early evidence is unanimously in support of ΦΙΛΟΝΙΚ- (not ΦΙΛΟΝΕΙΚ-; the earliest evidence supports the spelling -ΙΑ, as do the minuscules). All the accented evidence supports -ία, not ´-εια. So, we removed what was known, for linguistic reasons, to be a ‘venerable absurdity’ in the tradition of New Testament editions on the basis of the manuscript evidence.

At 1 Corinthians 11:16, we exercised caution in departing from the traditional (but non-Classical and etymologically-incorrect) spelling, φιλόνεικος. The correctly-formed φιλόνικος is found in Papyrus 46 and Codex Sinaiticus as well as in ΦΕΙΛΟΝΙΚΟΣ, the singular spelling of Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus. That is ‘2+ early witnesses’ for -νικ-. A fourth witness would be the sixth-century original text of Codex Claromontanus, but the fifth century was out cut-off point for early witnesses.

However, the counter-evidence of Codices Vaticanus and Alexandrinus was thought to be stronger. Also, although Codex Vaticanus reliably has <ει> for etymologically long <ι> for many, but not all words (ἡμῖν and ὑμῖν are regularly so written, almost never ἡμεῖν and ὑμεῖν (once and twice respectively), spellings found especially in Codex Bezae), Codex Sinaiticus is variable in its accuracy in this regard (among other points of spelling). In particular, Scribe A wrote <ι> for <ει> 29.5 times per folio (the opposite interchange occurs 1.7 times per folio), while Scribe D wrote <ι> for <ει> 4.1 times per folio (and <ει> for <ι> 2.8 times per folio). Scribe A copied both the Luke passage (see below) and the 1 Corinthians passage.

In the Luke passage (see above), we see a certain instance of <ει> for <ι> in ΜΙΖΩΝ for μείζων at the end of the penultimate line. In the second line, Scribe A wrote εἰς ἑαυτούς, which the corrector ‘ca’ altered to ἐν αὐτοῖς, the reading of all other manuscripts (apparently without exception). In the 1 Corinthians passage (see below), we have another certain instance in ΣΥ|ΝΗΘΙΑΝ, for συνήθειαν, which runs from the end of the third line to the middle of the second. (The abstract noun is to συνηθής and ἦθος ‘ethos’ as *φιλονείκεια would be φιλονεικής and νεῖκος.)

On this basis, the evidence for the ‘correct’ φιλόνικος is Papyrus 46 and a slightly garbled reading in Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus. Was ΦΕΙΛΟΝΙΚΟΣ a visual transcription error for ΦΙΛΟΝΕΙΚΟΣ ?

(On the various scribes of Codex Sinaiticus and their itacistic ‘incorrect’ spellings, see Dirk Jongkind, Scribal Habits of Codex Sinaiticus (Piscataway, NK: Gorgias, 2007), 90-94.)

Let us conclude. This investigation into φιλονεικία and φιλόνεικος has absolutely no impact on the translation or interpretation of the two passages (contrast the spelling variants at Matthew 19:24//Mark 10:25//Luke 18:25 and at 2 Peter 2:4). Indeed, one of the reasons, I suspect, that the manuscript evidence for the ‘correct’ spellings has gone unnoticed for so long, even when the linguistic facts were known, is that such variation is not important enough to report in an apparatus criticus or among variae lectiones minores.

However, this investigation demonstrates the high degree of care that was taken in constituting the New Testament text, even at the level of accentuation and of spellings that make no differences to the meaning. We were not content simply to preserve this ‘venerable absurdity’ from previous editions. Instead, we were committed to following the manuscript evidence, even when such consistent rigor results in ‘inconsistency’ in the presentation of words that involve the same, or similar, elements.

(An extra feature of this post is that it serves as something of an overview of Greek palaeography and early printing as well as a linguistic and philological excursus. I shall leave discussion of each manuscript’s features to the Comments).

This blog post is the result of research which I undertook for the Greek New Testament Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge, in 2016 as a Research Associate in Greek Palaeography, Papyrology, and Philology and on which I presented a paper at the Indo-European Linguistics Seminar, Faculty of Classics, Cambridge 16 November 2016.

* The phrase ‘venerable absurdity’ comes from J.E. Powell, Herodotus: Book VIII (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1939), xviii, who used it to describe editors’ practice of printing texts of Herodotus with rough breathings (e.g. the opening words of Book I: ροδότου λικαρνησσέος στορίης…), even though we know that Herodotus’ dialect was psilotic (h-dropping) and, as such, there were no rough breathings to mark (as compounds, such as ἀπ-ικομένους (not ἀφ-) in Ι 1.1, demonstrate). That said, the ‘venerable absurdity’ distinguishes Ionic ὤρη ‘regard’ (e.g. Hdt. I 4.2) from ὥρη ‘season, period, hour’ (e.g. Hdt. I 32.3) and ὦν (~ οὖν) from ὧν.