Wednesday, January 5, 2011

J. Borland on John 8:6 (μη προσποιουμενος)

The following is taken from Jonathan's post on Textual Criticism Yahoo Groups (Willker's group):
Re: [textualcriticism] John 8:6 - as though he heard them not - Beza Greek editions and possible annotation ? 
(Dec 26 , 2010, Msg #6199)

Dear List,

The internal character of the expression MH PROSPOIOUMENOS in most (3/4 [?]) of the manuscripts that contain John 7:53-8:11 suggests that it occupied a place in the earliest strands of the tradition. Note that this opinion opposes that of von Soden who maintains that the m1-m2-m3 groups are earliest, although in this case many manuscripts of the m1 group actually contain the expression.
The difficulty of determining the expression's meaning could have motivated its removal in Greek witnesses, and such expressions typically bothered translators. For example, how should the construction be expressed in Latin? One could simply use _dissimulans_, but still it is unclear: does Jesus write "concealing" what he was writing, or did he write while "ignoring" them, or something else? One could try to interpret the meaning, and depending on the result end up with various options, just two of which are: _simulans se eos non audivisse_ "pretending that he did not hear them," or, causally, _cum eos non audivisset_ "because he did not hear them." Note that the last possibility would allow for an accidental omission of the expression in Latin by way of homeoarchton error (cum...cum), but this theoretical possibility is far less likely than the alternative, namely, that the expression was removed either because it was difficult to understand or because it was difficult to imagine Jesus dissembling or pretending or deceiving, etc.
In my Master's thesis on the Old Latin tradition of John 7:53-8:11 I briefly discuss several places where early Greek witnesses may depend on the Latin tradition based on transcriptional errors that occur in Latin but not in Greek. If further investigation confirms such Greek dependence on the very early and influential Old Latin tradition, it is possible to suggest that the absence of the expression MH PROSPOIOUMENOS in the influential Latin tradition contributed to its absence in a number of manuscripts of the Greek tradition.

Jonathan C. Borland

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