The τῶν οὐρανῶν Variant Reading in John 3:5 | 17 textual purposes as the testimonies can be grouped on different levels of importance according to various methodological limitations. For instance, in his analysis of the text of John in Augustine’s commentary on the fourth gospel, H. Houghton distinguishes between primary and secondary citations, noting that “although the latter also include interesting forms, these cannot be ascribed to biblical manuscripts with the same degree of confidence,” 18 and considering that “the initial citation of each verse, most likely to have been drawn from a codex, has been taken as the definitive form of each verse.” 19 In any event, even if τῶν οὐρανῶν could be shown to be a corrupted or derivative variant, its persistence and wide presence is remarkable, as Tischendorf’s apparatus entry suggests, with early authors geographically spread from Lyon to Caesarea and North Africa. It clearly appears in Augustine’s Commentary on John, where “the majority of Augustine’s citations have in regnum caelorum rather than in regnum dei,” as reported by Houghton. 20 The full study of all occurrences of τῶν οὐρανῶν in patristic quotations of John 3:5 is still to be done. It seems unlikely that all such occurrences are due to the same kind of scribal mistake, independently, not least because τῶν οὐρανῶν can to a certain extent be considered a more difficult reading than τοῦ θεοῦ in John 3:5. Admittedly τῶν οὐρανῶν is certainly not the most discrepant variant possible for τοῦ θεοῦ present in most editions, since both variants point largely in the same direction. This may explain why the τῶν οὐρανῶν variant reading did not benefit of much discussion in most Johannine commentaries. 21 Metzger mentions that a possible case can be made for τῶν οὐρανῶν in which “τοῦ θεοῦ was introduced in order to make the passage harmonize with ver. 3.” 22 This is indeed also Tischendorf’s argument with regard to internal evidence, and was assumed rather singularly by Lagrange. 23 Yet with Bultmann, the variant τῶν οὐρανῶν is generally understood to most likely “go back to the influence Mt. 18.3,” 24 interpretation taken up by R. E. Brown as well. 25 It is thus regarded as a harmonisation introduced by copyists “in imitation of the frequently recurring expression in Matthew (εἰσέρχεσθαι [εἰσελθεῖν] εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν occurs in Mt. 5.20, 7.21, 18.3, 19.23).” 26 So also Willker: “βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν appears only(!) in Mt. It is possible that scribes simply remembered the familiar term.” 27 There are, in Metzger textual commentary, nine verses presented where a minor reading is construed as a possible scribal) harmonization to Matthew: 6:69, 10:11, 12:8, 13:26, 19:16, 19:29, 21:15.16.17. 28 As some of these recall synoptic material, it seems that there is a minimal rate of harmonization to specifically Matthean material in John. This is not unexpected in view of the notion that a harmonization is more likely to occur to a close rather than a distant reading. 29 But even so, βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ occurs in Matthew as well (6:33, 12:28, 19:24, 21:31), and in 19:23-24, for instance, both expressions occur with forms of the same verb εἰσέρχομαι. Since they are interchangeable in Matthew as well, one might question the basis for seeing here a harmonization to only one of them. On the other hand, Willker notes that since “the terms appear only here (verse 3 and 5) in John... it would be strange for John to use different terms.” 30 However, John does use different terms in the similar expressions, namely the verbs of 3:3 and 3:5: οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν and respectively οὐ δύναται εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν. One might argue that the exact repetition would be equally strange, since it seems rather redundant in the short distance of only two verses. More importantly, given that the structure of the saying in verse 5 parallels that of verse 3, if ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἐξ ὕδατος καὶ πνεύματος of verse 5 can be taken as an elaboration on ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν in verse 3 (which is normally the case), then so εἰσελθεῖν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν in verse 5 can be regarded as an elaboration on ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ of verse 3. Concluding remarks. On balance, τῶν οὐρανῶν in John 3:5 is a more important variant than the apparatuses of recent critical editions might suggest. It has one important witness on its side (Codex Sinaiticus) and several patristic testimonies, and would certainly work well in its Johannine context. It only lacks papyrus support for a claim that it is the ‘original’ reading at the end of verse 5 with some chance of success, should one wish to make that argument. Until then, we are dealing with a persistent variant with a history of its own, illustrating a particular case of the notion of the “living text of the gospels.” It is likely that the rather high plausibility of the τῶν οὐρανῶν in the text of John that made possible a remarkable career among the wide range of patristic authors, as an early variant that circulated widely and authoritatively for a considerably long period of time. And, until we have the Editio Critica Maior of John, this case serves as a reminder that for the purpose of NT textual criticism older editions should always be taken into account. 1 See, for a starting point, Parker 1997. 2 See, for starting points, Cerquiglini 1989 and Nichols 1997. 3 Schnackenburg 1968, p. 182-187. 4 Tischendorf 1869, p. 763. 5 A description of Tischendorf ’s Patristic abbreviations can be found in Gregory 1894. 6 Lagrange 1936, p. 76. 7 Tregelles 1857-1879, p. 386. 8 Von Soden 1913, p. 187. 9 Vogels 1922, p. 247. 10 Merk 1992, p. 313. Notes : 11 Swanson 1995, p. 28. 12 Metzger 1994, p. 174. 13 Willker 2015, TVU 29. 14 This manuscript is not included in the IGNPT majuscules volume “since it is a minuscule commentary manuscript whose lemmata are written in majuscule,” Schmid Elliott Parker 2007, p. 225. 15 See http://www.codex-sinaiticus.net/en/project/transcription_ detailed.aspx 16 Royse 2008, p. 77. 17 Fee 1993, pp. 344-359. Osburn 2005, p. 313-343. For a critique of the unconditional acceptance of the papyri, mainly on the basis
18 | Dan Batovici that they survived only in Egypt and thus represent a rather small geographical area, see Ehrman 2006. 18 Houghton 2009, p. 78. 19 Houghton 2009, p. 108. 20 Houghton 2009, p. 206. 21 None of the following authors discusses the τῶν οὐρανῶν variant of 3:5 in their commentaries on John: Schnackenburg, Barrett, Haenchen. A number of those who do take this variant into count are presented in the following. 22 Metzger 1994, p. 174. 23 Lagrange 1936, p. 76: Avec T[ischendorf] nous préférons τῶν οὐρανῶν soutenu par les Pères anciens à τοῦ θεοῦ (HSV), qui doit être une harmonisation avec le v.3. 24 Bultmann 1971, p. 138, n. 2. 25 Brown 1971, p. 131. 26 Metzger 1994, p. 174. 27 Willker 2015, tvu 29. 28 At the other end, for an account of an anterior (editorial) influence of the synoptic gospels on John 3:3.5 see Lindars 1980- 1981, p. 287-294. 29 Royse 2008, p. 197. 30 Willker 2015, tvu 29. Bibliographic Abbreviations: Brown 1971 – Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (i-xii), The Anchor Bible (London / Doublin / Melbourne: Geoffrey Chapman, 1971). Bultmann 1971 – Rudolf Bultmann, The Gospel of John. A Commentary, translated by G.R. Beasley-Murray (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1971). Cerquiglini 1989 – B. Cerquiglini, Éloge de la variante: histoire critique de la philologie (Paris: Seuil, 1989). Ehrman 2006 – Bart D. Ehrman, “The Use and Significance of Patristic Evidence for Textual Criticism,” in Studies in the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (Leiden: Brill, 2006), p. 247-266. Fee 1993 – Gordon D. Fee, “The Use of Greek Patristic Citations in New Testament Textual Criticism. The State of the Question,” in Eldon J. Epp and Gordon D. Fee, Studies in the Theory and Method of New Testament Textual Criticism (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, c1993), p. 344-539. Gregory 1894 – Caspar Renatus Gregory, Prolegomena (Constantinus Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Graece), volumen iii, P. 2. (Lipsiae: J. C. Hinrichs, 1894), p. 1129-1230. Houghton 2009 – Hough Houghton, Augustine’s Text of John (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). Lagrange 1936 – M.-J. Lagrange, Évangile selon Saint Jean (Paris: J. Gabalda, 5 1936). Lindars 1980-1981 – Barnabas Lindars, ‘John and the Synoptic Gospels: a Test Case’ New Testament Studies 27 (1980-1981), p. 287-294. Merk 1992 – Augustinus Merk, Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine. Editio undecima (Romae: Sumptibus Pontificii Instituti Biblici, 1992). Metzger 1994 – Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft / United Bible Societies, 1994). na28 – Aland, K., B. Aland, J. Karavidopoulos, C. M. Martini, and B. M. Metzger (eds.), Novum Testamentum Graece. 28th ed. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012. Nichols 1997 – Stephen G. Nichols, “Why Material Philology? Some Thoughts,” Zeitschrift für Deutsche Philologie 116 (1997) p. 10-30. Osburn 2005 – Carroll D. Osburn, “Methodology in Identifying Patristic Citations in NT Textual Criticism,” Novum Testamentum 47.4 (2005), p. 313-343. Parker 1997 – D. C. Parker, The Living Text of the Gospels (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). Royse 2008 – James R. Royse, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri (NTTSD 36; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2008). Schmid Elliott Parker 2007 – U.B. Schmid, W.J. Elliott and D.C. Parker, The New Testament in Greek iv. The Gospel According to St. John, Volume two: The Majuscules, edited by the American and British Committees of the International Greek New Testament Project (Leiden / Boston: Brill, 2007). Schnackenburg 1968 – R. Schnackenburg, The Gospel According to St. John, vol. 1, trans. K. Smyth (New York: Herder, 1968). von Soden 1913 – Herman Freiherr von Soden, Griechisches Neues Testament. Text mit kurzem Apparat (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1913). Swanson 1995 – Reuben Swanson, New Testament Greek Manuscripts. Variant Readings Arranged in Horizontal Lines Against Codex Vaticanus. John (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press / Pasadena ca: William Carey International University Press, 1995). Tischendorf 1869 – Constantinus Tischendorf, Novum Testamentum Graece. Ad antiquissimos testes denuo recensuit, apparatum criticum omni studio perfectum apposuit, commentationem isagogicam praetexuit C. T. Editio octava critica maior, volumen i (Lipsiae: Giesecke & Devrient, 1869). Tregelles 1857-1879 – Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, The Greek New Testament. Edited from Ancient Authorities, with their Various Readings in Full. ii. Luke-John (London, Samuel Bagster and Sons, C. J. Stewart: 1857-1879). Vogels 1922 – Henr. Jos. Vogels, Novum Testamentum Graece et Latine. Pars Prima: Evangelia et Actus Apostolorum (Düsseldorf: L. Schwann, Druckerei un Verlag, 1922). Willker 2015 – Wieland Willker, A Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels. Vol. 4: John (Bremen: online published 7th edition, 2010), available at http://www.willker.de/wie/TCG/TC-John.pdf. Peer reviewed by : Alin Suciu (Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, Göttingen); Peter Malik (Kirchliche Hochschule Wuppertal-Bethel, Institut für Septuaginta- und biblische Textforschung, Wuppertal); Ioana Costa (Universitatea din Bucureşti, Bucharest / Institutul de Istorie şi Teorie Literară ‘G. Călinescu’, Bucharest); and another reviewer who wished to remain anonymous.