Crowd versus Crowds

As I make my Byzantine edition of Matthew’s gospel, I get annoyed sometimes by the numerousness of variants that are meaningless in the Greek manuscripts and even in the editions thereof. Matthew chapter 15 verse 36 is a good example, in which there are a half dozen unimportant variants.

One that is actually amazing to me is that the word for crowd, οχλος, is plural in the NA28 but singular in the Robinson-Pierpont, yet in the previous verse, v. 35, they switch, and οχλος is singular in the NA28 and plural in the RP! Both verses are talking about the same crowd and occasion.

15:35 τοις οχλοις E F G H K L M N P S U V W X Γ Δ Π Σ Φ 0233 2 118 565 700 1071 𝔐 it-a,d,e,f,k,q syr-c,p cop-bo Hil TR RP τους οχλους C 892c 1424 τω οχλω ℵ B D Θ ƒ¹ ƒ¹³ 33 157 346 579 788 892* it-b,ff¹,f²,g¹,g²,l vg syr-h cop-sa-mss,mae,bo-mss arm eth Or SBL TH NA28 {\} lac A Q Z 0281 28 69.

15:36 τω οχλω C D E F G H N P S U W X Γ Δ Θ Σ Φ 2 118 565 1071 1424 𝔐 it> vg cop-sa-mss,mae arm Chr TR RP τοις οχλοις ℵ B K L M Π ƒ¹ ƒ¹³ 33 157 238 243 346 579 700 788 it-e,f,ff¹ syr cop-sa-ms,bo SBL TH NA28 {\} ‖ lac A Q Z 0233 0281 28 69. 

I offer a few observations: 1.) The plural is maintained in both by L M Π 700 syr-c,p cop-bo.  (2.) The singular is maintained in both by arm.  I would not begrudge any translator rendering all these as a singular.  (3.) This may demonstrate how insignificant the singular v. plural of οχλος is.