ΓΕΙΝΟΜΑΙ Not ΓΙΝΟΜΑΙ In Luke

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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
Observations
  • 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.
Conclusion
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that they were able to preserve into the fourth and fifth centuries spellings representing pronunciations which were no longer current.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.