An interesting variant at Luke 23.13

by James Dowden

A late evening’s idle Googling around brought up this gem in Hikmat Kashouh’s The Arabic Versions of the Gospels: the Manuscripts and their Families:

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The conflation ἄρχοντας τοῦ λαοῦ καὶ τὸν λαὸν is clearly just that: a conflation. Now the support for ἄρχοντας τοῦ λαοῦ is probably just too weak: it’s part of the Western branch (with the obvious exception of D/d!) – some Old Latin and Syriac witnesses – plus a handful of Greek minuscules whose text type is a mixture of Byzantine and something else (although 16 and 1216 cohere quite nicely). But the Western text seems to be unusually good in Luke 22-24, at least if one is a fan of those Western Non-Interpolations.

The text reading, ἄρχοντας καὶ τὸν λαὸν, also raises a curious problem of sense. Here at verse 13, we have Pilate summoning the chief priests and the rulers and the people so that they can all shout out at verse 18, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas!” Then at verse 27, the great multitude of the people are mourning and lamenting Jesus. At verse 35, they can only stand by and watch as the rulers scoffed at Jesus on the cross, a striking redaction of Mark 15.29-30 (And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying,“Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” (ESV)). Then at 24.20, Cleopas on the road to Emmaus informs Jesus that “our chief priests and rulers delivered him up”, and the people once more are innocent.

The Western reading, ἄρχοντας τοῦ λαοῦ, removes this problem. Pilate summons the chief priests and the rulers of the people. The story works in its own terms. There’s also a plausible motive for scribal alteration to this reading: conformation to Mark and Matthew. One could picture a scribe reaching the point where Luke has the chief priests and the rulers of the people saying “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas!” and thinking that it just wasn’t right and uncorrecting τοῦ λαοῦ to καὶ τὸν λαὸν, thereby adding the people in.

Next time: maybe back to those Synoptic Problem visualizations, or maybe I’ll make a belated LXX Day post.

 

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