Category Archives: Paleography

Spelling of Capernaum

John 6:24 txt καφαρναουμ 𝔓⁷⁵ ℵ B D N W SBL TH NA28 {\} καπερναουμ A E L 047 TR RP lac 𝔓⁶⁶ C T. The lacunose MSS do have the word elsewhere. The MSS are listed by date as follows:

𝔓⁶⁶ – 200 – καφαρναουμ
𝔓⁴⁵ – III – καφαρναουμ
𝔓⁷⁵ – III – καφαρναουμ
0162 – III/IV – καφαρναουμ
ℵ – IV – καφαρναουμ
B – IV – καφαρναουμ
W – IV/V – mixed
C – V – καφαρναουμ
D – V – καφαρναουμ
T – V – καφαρναουμ
A – V – καπερναουμ
Z – VI – καφαρναουμ
N – VI – mixed
Σ – VI – καπερναουμ
Φ – VI – καπερναουμ
E – VIII – καπερναουμ
L – VIII – mixed
047 – VIII – καπερναουμ

You can see that the spelling changed in the 5th century with Codices W and A, except that Codices L and N and Z carried it a bit later. The BDF grammar on the transliteration of Hebrew “MUTES: כ, פ, ת (unvoiced nonemphatic stops and spirants) are represented by χ, φ, θ, except where two aspirates would follow in contiguous syllables (in which case the Greeks dissimilated even in their own words).”

Ancient Greek had letters for both the aspirated and unaspirated P, T and K, while in English we have letters only for the aspirated, because the unaspirated stops do not mean something different from the aspirated versions, they are not “phonemes.” In Greek, the aspirated P was Φ φ (sounds just like our English P) and the unaspirated was Π π, which English does not have a letter for. The Greek aspirated T was Θ θ, like our English T, and the unaspirated was Τ τ, which English does not have a letter for. The Greek aspirated K sound was the letter Χ χ, like our English letter K, and the unaspirated was Κ κ, which English does not have a letter for. The Greek language has changed very much since then. For example, the letter β is no longer the B sound but is now V. You now write the B sound as the two letters μπ. The letter δ is no longer the D sound, but is now voiced TH as in “then.” Now, to write the D sound you write two letters, ντ. Greek grammar has of course changed in the thousands of years. One of the biggest changes is that there is no longer a dative case.

1 Timothy 3 Verse 16

There is a famous Greek textual variant in 1 Timothy 3:16, where the “critical text,” SBL TH NA28 reads

 Ὃς ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί  “Who/he was manifested in the flesh.” (relative pronoun)

and the “majority text,” TR RP reads

θεὸϛ ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί  “God was manifested in the flesh.”

The difference originally in the most ancient manuscripts was much less clear in appearance.  Because there was a custom of contracting or abbreviating sacred names and concepts, by shortening them to fewer letters and putting a line over the whole group of letters, as can be seen in the correction in Codex Claromontanus (D- 06).  (These contractions were called “Nomina Sacra” or NS for short.)  Observe that the two-letter NS for God ΘΕΟC, which is just ΘC with a line over it, as seen in the correction of Codex Claromontanus, looks very similar to the relative pronoun OC in Codex Sinaiticus.  Note that Sinaiticus did not have an overline originally, and a late third hand made a correction toward the majority text.

What could have contributed to the problem is that scribes such as the one for Codex A used a caligraphy type pen tip, which was wide in a down stroke and very thin in a horizontal stroke. Thus the cross-bar in the capital letter Theta, Θ, could be very faint and therefore look like a capital Omicron, Ο.

Codex Claromontanus (D – 06) below:

Codex Sinaiticus (01) below:

Codex Alexandrinus (02) below:

Mark of the Beast 666

I have an interesting book by an ex-Muslim terrorist who has become a Christian. In his book he puts forth a theory on what glyphs looked like which the apostle John originally wrote in Revelation 13:18 for the mark of the beast. His theory is a visual one, in which you take the Greek abbreviation for 666 found in many of the manuscripts and turn the letters on their side. So take χξς and turn the letters leftward onto their sides, and it looks quite a lot like a famous slogan in Arabic script that is central to Islam.

I am quite sure the theory is not correct, but here are snips of the four earliest Greek manuscripts of this verse that we have:

The abbreviation χ̅ξ̅ϛ̅ for 666 in Papyrus 47:

The abbreviation χ̅̅ι̅ϛ̅ for 616 in Papyrus 115:

The number 666 written out in Codex Sinaiticus (ℵ) as εξακοσιαι εξηκοντα ἕξ

The number 666 written out in Codex Alexandrinus (A) as εξακοσιοι εξήκοντα ἕξ:

I have an updated footnote on this in my Revelation PDF. Download it here.

GA2329 end of Revelation

I discovered an interesting reading in minuscule GA 2329 in the last two verses of the Revelation of John. This was prompted by the fact that the UBS5 apparatus has a “vid” next to 2329. So I looked at the photograph of the manuscript itself.

Most manuscripts say something like “Yes, come Lord Jesus. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all the saints. Amen.” But 2329 skips “May the grace of our Lord Jesus” and instead says ερχου κυριε ιησου χριστε μετα των αγιων σου αμην – “Come Lord Jesus Christ with your saints. Amen.”

Here is a snip from the manuscript:

You can download my translation of Revelation with the Greek text here.

Palmer and Ligatures

In my previous post, I showed why I believed Erasmus’ 3rd and 4th editions read παρ εστιν and not περ εστιν.  I titled the previous post “Hoskier and Ligatures” and questioned his ability to read ligatures.  So this time I will title it “Palmer and Ligatures” since I was the questionable one.

The problem with ligatures is that they can be blurry or tiny in one important detail that makes all the difference.  Such is the case here.  My ligature table and chart is correct, but I was limited to the font I had.  In the font chart, the difference between παρ and περ is quite small:

Today Dr. Maurice Robinson emailed me to say I was incorrect on this.  So I set about to find other examples of Erasmus’ ligatures for παρ and περ.  It turns out that in Erasmus’ ligature for παρ, he has a relatively large alpha letter above, compared to my example in my ligature chart, which was limited by the font.  The ligature for περ in my chart has a small half moon, convexed to the left.  However, in Erasmus, this half moon is larger.  I will give examples below.

In addition, Erasmus’ tail to his Rho letters is a large loop that circles back up diagonally to the left, compared to my chart which has a small, barely discernible loop, whereas in the ligature for παρ there is a large loop.

Compounding the difficulty with ligatures is that one same author may use 3 or 4 different ligatures for the same thing.  And in fact Erasmus wrote these 3 different ways, even 2 different ways in one word, see below.

Erasmus’ superscript alpha is relatively large and far to the left.

Mat 4:18  παρὰ  in Erasmus 3:

Matt 1:19 παραδειγματίσαι in Erasmus 3:

Matt 1:19 παραδειγματίσαι in Erasmus 2:

Here I will show Erasmus’ περπερεύεται in 1 Cor. 13:4 in all five editions, from 1 to 5:

Observe that he wrote the word περπερεύεται five different ways!

My table of Ligatures is still correct, and useful. Also, I have corrected my Revelation document. In addition, you can purchase a printed paperback edition of my ligature guide.

Hoskier and Ligatures

EDIT: My next post updates this one, as I was mistaken in this post. But I will leave it for the images and information / illustration of the difficulties of reading New Testament Greek Ligatures.

As I posted before, I am currently busy updating and improving the footnotes to my translation of the Revelation of John, “The Apocalypse of John.” One of the ways I am expanding the footnotes, is specifying which Vulgate manuscripts (not just editions) support what reading. Also, where the Textus Receptus is divided, specifying which editions read what.

In this process, I have found several places in which I disagree with H. C. Hoskier’s collation of the TR editions. I do not know if he was relying on someone else’s collations, or if he looked at the original documents themselves. But the problem lies in understanding the ligatures for letter combinations that are used in Greek cursive manuscripts, including the Greek New Testament editions made by Erasmus, Beza, Elzevir, and Stephens. Now, I possess PDF copies of the original cursive manuscripts of the following “Textus Receptus” editions. All 5 Erasmus editions, the 1550 Stephanus edition, the 1598 Beza edition, the 1624 Elzevir edition, plus the Complutensian Polyglot (1514).

Revelation 17:8 variant- καιπερ εστιν

There is a famous textual variant in Revelation chapter 17 verse 8 where the Textus Receptus disagrees with all Greek manuscripts and reads καιπερ εστιν. However, I found that I disagree with Hoskier regarding the readings of Erasmus’ editions 1, 3 and 4, as follows.

First, a snip showing what Hoskier says:

Erasmus Ed. 1 (1516): Hoskier says και περ is two words, I say one:

Erasmus Ed. 3 (1522) very clearly reads καί παρ, not καί περ:

Erasmus Ed. 4 (1527) very clearly reads καί παρ, not καί περ:

See here the difference- Erasmus Ed. 5 (1535) shows the ligature for περ:

I still offer my chart of Greek cursive ligatures for free (also thanks go to Vernon Eugene Kooy, PhD for his font). These above images and data are now included in my Revelation pdf, downloadable for free.

Ancient Greek Pronunciation

Translations of the Greek New Testament into other ancient languages help us know what the sounds were in ancient Greek compared to now.  In order to translate Christian texts, the Copts invented 7 extra glyphs for sounds unknown to the Greeks, but which they needed for their language.  This is informative to us as to what Greek sounded like as late as the early church times.  Thus we know that even as late as the Christian era in Egypt, the Greek letter φ (Phi) was not pronounced like English “F” but instead like our English “P.”  We know this because Coptic had to invent a separate letter Ϥ for the F sound, a sound which Coptic had, but Greek did not have.

And because of the law of Phonetic symmetry in the distribution of points of articulation in the mouth, we can reasonably extrapolate this principle to the other set of consonants also, that is, Χ and Κ.  And predict the following: the Greek letter χ sounded like our English “K” and the Greek letter Κ was a softer, unaspirated K for which English does not have a letter or symbol.  In Phonetics we find that languages that have both an aspirated and unaspirated P, will also have both aspirated and unaspirated versions of the other stops such as T and K etc.  Thus, φ was p sound, θ was t sound, χ was k sound, and π, τ, κ were unaspirated versions thereof, for which we do not have letters in English.

Another example that Plumley gives in Metzger’s book shows that the Greek letter θ definitely was not a “th” sound like we have in English, as in the word “thick.”  It was simply our Englsih “t” sound, as in “tick.”  One way we know this is because Coptic translators, when they heard the Greek word θαλασσα, wrote down HALASSA with the feminine definite article T in front of it.  That’s because it was pronounced TALASSA and the scribes or translators heard TALASSA.

The above knowledge can lead us to some interesting insights.  For example, knowing that φ was pronounced “p” and θ was pronounced “t,” we can pronounce correctly the word φθινοπωρινος in Jude v. 12, and recognize our English word “patina” there, and see how that relates to change in color of leaves in Autumn.  Greek had a word φθινα for the mildewing of material (which would change its color), but see also φθῖνάς “a waning, a wasting away”, or φθινιασμα “declining,” and the verb φθινω, “to perish, decay, waste away.”  Our English word patina also refers to the wasting away or corrosion of semi-precious metals, like copper and bronze, upon which a green film accumulates.

This page gives the correct pronunciation of ancient Greek consonants.

Papyrus 64/67 Readings in Matthew

The oldest Greek manuscript we have of any significant part of the Gospel of Matthew is probably Papyrus 64/67 (?⁶⁴). Regarding Papyrus 64, there are 7 places where the Byzantine Robinson-Pierpont (RP) text and/or the Textus Receptus (TR) disagree with the Critical Text (CT), and where P64 is also extant:

5:20, CT and P64 read υμων η δικαιοσυνη, RP has η δικαιοσυνη υμων

5:22, CT and P64 read αυτου, RP reads αυτου εικη

5:25, CT and P64 read ο κριτης, RP reads ο κριτης σε παραδω

5:27, CT and P64 and RP read ερρεθη, TR reads ερρεθη τοις αρξαιοις (difference between TR and Robinson-Pierpont)

26:8, CT and P64 read μαθηται, RP reads μαθηται αυτου

26:22, CT reads εις εκαστος, RP reads εκαστος αυτων, but P64 omits both of these

26:23, CT and P64 read μετ εμου την χειρα εν τω τρυβλιω, RP reads μετ εμου εν τω τρυβλιω την χειρα

So, P64 agrees with CT 5 out of 7, agrees with CT and RP against TR 1 out of 7, and against both CT and RP 1 out of 7.

The only really significant variant is 5:22. CT and P64 say “angry with his brother,” and RP text says “angry with his brother without a cause”

5:27, CT and P64 and RP say “You have heard that it was said,” and TR says, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago.”

26:22, CT says, “they began each one to say to him; RP says “they began each one of them to say to him,’ and P64 says “they began to say.”