Baker Academic

Friday, January 12, 2018

Further Comments on MS 284 from the Silver-Haired Assassin Himself—Chris Keith

On January 2, I put a post on the Jesus Blog about MS 284 and the pericope adulterae's location in it.  I was interacting with some recently published comments by Maurice Robinson.  He then wrote me with some thoughts and I invited him to write them up for a post that I could then publish here as well.  He kindly agreed and I'm glad  to post them below.  I'm still much less certain than Maurice about the meaning of the obelus, but he seems to have a much better explanation for the missing patri that I had proposed.  Thanks for the discussion, Maurice.

Regarding Dr Keith’s comments on MS 284, I offer the following comments and clarifications (abridged and revised from a longer email sent to Dr Keith).

Since I had not seen MS 284 since my initial microfilm collation in Muenster in 1998, I had lacked a way to consult and verify the data until Dr Keith noted that it had been added to the VMR and now with photos of the pertinent sections made available on this blogsite.

Originally I had noted the lack of the PA at the Jn 7:52 location, with the inserted sheet placed (quite irregularly) between the page ending Jn 10.36a kosmon and the page beginning 10.36b umei=. Many years later, I theorized that the inserted sheet may have been intended to fit in a more appropriate location, namely, between Jn 10.38 and 10.39. Since I no longer had access to the document, I asked Ulrich Schmid to see whether an asterisk or insertion mark might occur in that location, which to my surprise, he reported to be the case.

My database comment now reports that the original order was 7:52; 7:53; 8:12, but with 7:53 erased and replaced by a widely spaced 8:12 in a significantly different hand. The PA subsequently was inserted on a separate paper sheet in a very late (16th century? But not from a printed TR edition) hand between Jn 10:35-36, with an obelus at the beginning of Jn 10:39 to indicate intended insertion. Further, the supplied leaf concludes with a peculiar extraneous kai following 8:11 (mhketi amartane kai sic) — peculiar since there is no suggestion in the addition or main text that Jn 8:12 should begin with kai (from my collation data such is read only by the original hand of 2193, subsequently corrected); nor would the inserted PA portion with kai fit the context in the middle of Jn 10:36 in any sensible manner.

Rather, the intent seems to have been the insertion of the PA following Jn 10:38 which itself is marked by an obelus, with the kai linking the passage to the first word (ezhtoun) of Jn 10:39, where the PA does seem to fit quite well.

Although this scenario might not be the only possible explanation regarding the observed phenomena, it certainly seems plausible and best under the circumstances.

Regarding Dr Keith’s blog comments (“An Update on the Location of the Pericope Adulterae in MS 284—Chris Keith”, Tuesday, January 2, 2018), some observations and correction are necessary.

CK: “If anyone has done more research on the paratextual matters of 284, I'd love to know more about how the obelus is used elsewhere in the manuscript.”

Frankly, so would I, since in my collation research on the PA, I certainly did not examine every MS in its entirety. However, since the obelus in this instance seems to be a late addition and not something from around the time of the original scribe (13th century), there might not be much to gain from further examination on this point.

CK: On the basis of Robinson and Text und Textwert, I previously noted that a corrector of MS 284 placed PA “after John 10:36” . . . . [also] Robinson, “The Pericope Adulterae: A Johannine Tapestry with Double Interlock,” 119.

For whatever reason, this was a misstatement on my part (and I knew better), since the inserted page is clearly between 10.36a (ending one page of the original MS) and 10.36b (beginning the next page).

MAR: However, a previously unnoticed obelus was inserted in the main text of MS 284 at the clearly more appropriate location following John 10:39.

Again a misstatement (or typo?), since the obelus appears between the end of 10.38 and the beginning of 10.39.

CK: It is not clear whether the “fact” that INTF confirmed for Robinson was the obelus’s presence or that the obelus indicated that PA should be read “following John 10:39.”

As mentioned, Ulrich Schmid (who is not to blame for any of the misstatements or typos) confirmed for me some years ago the presence of the obelus; at that time he seemed to be of the opinion that the obelus was a marker for the PA insertion (whether he still would concur, one would have to ask him). Now of course, the relevant photos are readily available (which they were not when I had asked Ulrich).

CK: I cannot personally judge whether 7:53 had originally been written in its normal location and then erased, but Robinson is correct that original script was erased and 8:12 written over it.

When I worked with the microfilm in Münster, it appeared to me that there were some indications (traces?) of 7.53 present in the erased portion. This supposition seemed to be borne out by letter-count estimates.

CK: It almost certainly indicates the omission of patri at the end of 10:38 by the original scribe, as the obelus occurs directly between tw and ezhtoun, where the missing word belongs.

Here is where I have to differ with Dr Keith’s interpretation: the obelus does not involve the omission of patri at the end of 10.38, but the -tw in question is merely the last part of autw, with the first portion (au-) appearing on the previous line.

Given that MS 284 is clearly a late Byzantine MS and a component part of Ï (according to NA27 p.713; this list no longer present in NA28), it would not be expected to follow the Alexandrian/Western reading kagw en tw patri at that point. Rather, the text of MS 284 simply followed the normal Byzantine reading kagw en autw.

Thus, the obelus could not indicate a missing patri, but would have to indicate something else. The insertion of a an initial kai preceding 10.39 (such as concludes the inserted leaf) seems to be the only viable possibility (Codex Bezae also includes kai at that point, with limited versional support) — yet that limited Western reading normally would not affect late Byzantine MSS (Swanson shows various MSS inserting the postpositive de or oun at that point: Ì45 Ì66 Í A K D P Y f1 f13 2 69 346 565 579 1071 1424 — but none other than Bezae appear to insert an initial kai before ezhtoun. So also various other published collations of Byzantine MSS (Scrivener et al.).

CK: Furthermore, 284 also reflects a practice of reading PA at John 7:53, though this evidence has not been mentioned by previous scholars. Someone wrote “L Jo” in the margin of 284 where John 7:53 would have been and the same thing at the top of the separate sheet of paper containing PA.

This is correct, and that indicator is apparently in the same late hand as that of the inserted leaf. Also at the 7.52/8.12 location is an additional note, apparently legetai (legt), which serves as a reading instruction regarding omission of the PA in the Pentecost lection, continuing with 8.12. However — not noted by Dr Keith — a similar but barely visible note appears in the margin of 10.39 in close position to the obelus. That note also appears to read L Jo, with what seems to be gr (the usual indication for a variant reading) written below. If this is correct, such would once more point to the insertion location for the supplied PA leaf, in a location that otherwise would not interrupt the Pentecost lection. This supposition if further supported by the fact that Jn 10.38 also represents the specific end of a lection within the Synaxarion (sabb. e in the Johannine section), while Jn 10.39 begins a separate lection (Jan 12 in the Menologion). In other words, the indicated insertion point seems to have been selected specifically so as not to interfere with the internal content of any particular lection.

CK: What can be said is there is a placement of a separate sheet of paper containing PA between two pages that end and begin in the midst of John 10:36, with a reading aid in the margin at John 7:53 that corresponds to the separate sheet of paper.

That certainly can be said; but one should not ignore the similar marginal “reading aid” that appears opposite the obelus between 10.38 and 10.39.

CK: Clearly, more analysis of this interesting manuscript is needed.

So too for virtually all NT Greek MSS. Any takers?



  1. I have not looked intently at the page-images, and perhaps this question was already answered, but, is there a possibility that the inserted page was added between the beginning and end of quires?

    1. Someone asked this question on Facebook also. I can't personally tell from just the digital images whether this might be the case.

  2. Neither can I speak to quire boundaries based only on the photographs. However, given the very late hand of the inserted paper leaf (which appears merely to have been glued in), one would presume the MS already had long been bound, in which case quire boundaries would not be a factor.