It’s Greek *for* you

If I had a quarter for every time someone said, “It’s all Greek to me” after I said something about an original-language word or text structure or studying Greek grammar. . . .

Well, here’s a tiny bit of Greek that should be at least mildly interesting, even for those who don’t know even the Gk alphabet!

A recent reference to 1Corinthians 2:13, in the context of an e-mail discussion of “spiritual” and “spirit,” led to a discovery.  Below I’ve pasted in 2:13 from three of the most up-to-date, reputable Greek texts available.

13 ἃ καὶ λαλοῦμεν οὐκ ἐν διδακτοῖς ἀνθρωπίνης σοφίας λόγοις ἀλλʼ ἐν διδακτοῖς πνεύματος, πνευματικοῖς πνευματικὰ συγκρίνοντες.

13 ἃ καὶ λαλοῦμεν οὐκ ἐν διδακτοῖς ἀνθρωπίνης σοφίας λόγοις, ἀλλʼ ἐν διδακτοῖς πνεύματος, πνευματικοῖς πνευματικὰ συγκρίνοντες.

13 ἃ καὶ λαλοῦμεν οὐκ ἐν διδακτοῖς ἀνθρωπίνης σοφίας λόγοις ἀλλʼ ἐν διδακτοῖς πνεύματος, πνευματικοῖς  συγκρίνοντες.

[Aside:  text critics might be interested in looking at other/older Greek texts, but any one of those above may generally be trusted as standard, according to current knowledge, and attested by scholars.  The differences among the various texts have to do with textual notes/apparatus, and the focus of such notes, not the text itself.]

Now, the purpose of the comparison here is that one of the above texts is not like the others.  (Do you hear the old Sesame Street song in your head?)  Can you find the discrepancy?  You don’t have to know anything about Greek.  It’s not difficult, really.  Just look at the length of the 2nd line in the NA28, and compare it to the other two. There it is: an entire word missing.  In the NA28 text, the word πνευματικὰ is completely missing in the 2nd line.

The back-story:  this discovery was made through the combined efforts of three study partners.  We were comparing notes somewhat hurriedly in the process of a larger exegetical effort.  I did a word search using my Logos software, and two others did similar searches—one other using Logos, and one using BibleWorks.  The results: the other two guys’ counts showed 1 instance more than mine.  Hmmm.  I checked my search criteria and performed the search again.  Same results.  Exactly the same verses found, but there were 25 total instances of the adjective form of “spiritual” instead of the 26 the other guys found.

Only on 3rd or 4th examination did I find the source of the discrepancy:  NA28 did not contain the word πνευματικὰ before συγκρίνοντες.  So I mentioned this, figuring it was a textual variant, and figuring I would find a note about this word in one or more textual apparatus compilations, but I did not.

Then, another study partner checked another source for the NA28 and found that it did contain πνευματικὰ.  The discrepancy, therefore, was not in the NA28 itself but in Logos’s electronic edition of the NA28.  Someone, or some system, somehow, at some point, had inadvertently omitted this word within the Logos electronic library.  I reported the error to Logos electronically and presume it will be corrected in the near future.

This, it seems to me, is a modern example of how “scribal errors” may occur.  Even in the digital age!


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