"Are Your Intentions Honorable?": Apologetic Interests and the Scribal Revision of Jesus in the Canonical Gospels1

Wayne C. Kannaday

Newberry College

1. For most of the history of the text-critical discipline, the majority of textual scholars focused exclusively on the singular task of recovering the "original" text of the New Testament.2 Only with the dawn of the past century have scholars of the New Testament text begun to mine the rich vein of formerly discarded variant readings with an eye toward discovering what they might tell us about how historical and social forces shaped the text. Various studies have shown how the evolving Christian reactions to Judaism,3 efforts to suppress the public role of women in the early church,4 asceticism,5 and the Christological controversies of the second and third centuries (Ehrman 1993) impacted and transformed the text of the canonical New Testament. Also among those historical and editorial influences upon the New Testament texts were dynamics that proceeded from a defensive posture against pagan opponents of the Jesus movement (Kannaday 2004).6

2. All of this is to acknowledge that textual transmission did not occur in a historical vacuum. In fact, we can assert with due qualification that the text passed down to us through the ages may rightly be considered a product of historical evolution. As a species it survived, however, by means of scribes engaged in some hybrid method of reproduction that included both cloning and genetic manipulation. On the one hand, copyists generally labored quite tediously and mechanically to reproduce their exemplars; on the other hand, at least some scribes engaged in the manual transmission of the Gospels produced forms of mutation that have traditionally been labeled "an intentional modification."

3. But exactly what do textual scholars mean by "intentional"? To what extent can we accurately speak of "scribal intention"? Traditionally, of course, the term has served to distinguish "accidental" readings--those produced by scribal error or omission, for example--from readings that cannot be accounted for other than by the willful decision on the part of a scribe to alter his or her exemplar. Occasionally, then, it can be discerned that such cloners of textual species have tampered with the genes and produced a mutated variety.

4. Despite their anonymity, then, some scribes have left on the text an indelible mark, what J. Rendel Harris labeled so provocatively as "fingerprints."7 Now, to be sure, just as fingerprint evidence does not compare favorably with DNA profiling, the question remains as to whether and to what extent these scribal fingerprints--"intentional" variant readings--can prove sufficient for us to identify with sound reason that certain social, historical, and theological forces have shaped particular variant readings of the New Testament text?

5. In what follows I will present what I believe to be some "fingerprint" evidence that demonstrates that scribes did indeed occasionally modify the text in concert with apologetic interests. Following the presentation of that evidence, I will conclude by offering some embryonic thoughts on the matter of "Scribal Intentions."

Apologetic Discourse and the Textual Tradition

6. Before proceeding, however, it seems necessary to set the stage for this "fingerprint" evidence with a brief word about the Gospel text and apologetic discourse. The New Testament was not completely unfamiliar to or ignored by pagan critics of the movement. Among such critics, Celsus and Porphyry demonstrated a particularly keen acquaintance with Christian sacred writings, and it appears that in some clear cases scribes may well have modified their exemplars in direct reaction to their informed assaults.8 Celsus, in fact, was aware that such amendments were being effected. In True Logos he declared:9

Although you lied you were not able to conceal plausibly your fictitious tales. Some believers, as though from a drinking bout, go so far as to oppose themselves and alter the original text of the gospel three or four or several times over, and they change its character to enable them to deny difficulty in the face of criticism.10
To some extent, it is fair to say, Celsus was in this assertion correct. Some copyists of New Testament Gospels did in fact, on occasion, alter their exemplars to avoid or reduce "difficulties in the face of criticism;" that is, some scribes occasionally modified the text of the Gospels under the influence of apologetic interests.

7. As a means of demonstrating this thesis, the following readings serve as a sampler of textual modifications that, arguably, function apologetically, that is, that manifest a correlation between the apparent function of these scribal modifications and the recognized content of the early polemic discourse that ensued in the second and third centuries between pagan intellectuals and Christian apologists. Thus, I contend that some measure of apologetic influence on their producers constitutes, at least in part, the best explanation for the existence of these modifications in the textual tradition of the canonical Gospels.

8. Admittedly, the case to be made here is, in large measure, a cumulative one. The point neither stands nor falls on the merits of the analysis of any one particular reading, but rests on the recognition of a pattern, a pattern in which a number of altered verses appear to have been modified under the influence of apologetic interests. The reader will find this compelling only to the extent one finds the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Variant Readings that Function Apologetically: A Sampler

Matthew 27:35

"Original" Text:staurw&santej de\ au)to\n diemeri/santo ta_ i9ma&tia au)tou= ba&llontej klh=ron.
"And having crucified him, they divided his garments by casting lots."
Modified Text:i3na plhrwqh|= to\ r9hqe\n u9po\ tou= profh/tou, Diemeri/santo ta& i9ma&tia& mou e9autoi=j, kaiÇ e0pi\ to\n i9matismo/n mou e1balon klh=ron.
"in order that which was spoken by the prophet might be fulfilled, 'They divided my garments among themselves and for my clothing they cast lots.'"

9. In Mt 27:35, the precise point in Matthew's passion narrative at which the actual crucifixion of Jesus is reported, the primary text reads as follows:

staurw&santej de\ au)to\n diemeri/santo ta_ i9ma&tia au)tou= ba&llontej klh=ron.

"And having crucified him, they divided his garments by casting lots."

It is well known that one of the most frequent attacks penned by critics of Christianity was that the founder of the Jesus movement, in fact, was executed under the death sentence reserved by Romans for only the most heinous of criminals.11 Apologists, in response, sought to legitimize the crucifixion of Jesus by reporting that not only was his execution an act of injustice, but it was also anticipated by ancient and divinely inspired seers.

10. In this light, it is striking that this same defensive strategy appears in the textual tradition. Some manuscripts reporting this verse12 attribute this moment of the crucifixion to prophetic inevitability by adding (from Psalm 22:8) these words:

i3na plhrwqh|= to\ r9hqe\n u9po\ tou= profh/tou, Diemeri/santo ta& i9ma&tia& mou e9autoi=j, kai? e0pi\ to\n i9matismo/n mou e1balon klh=ron.

"in order that which was spoken by the prophet might be fulfilled, 'They divided my garments among themselves and for my clothing they cast lots.'"13

What scribes have produced here is a reading that echoes apologetic motifs, and that can be described as "functioning" apologetically.

Luke 23:32

"Original" Text:h1gonto de\ kai\ e3teroi kakou=rgoi du/o su\n au0tw|~ a)naireqh=nai.
"And with him they also led away two other evildoers to be crucified."
Modified Text:(1) . . . e3teroi du/o kakou=rgoi . . .
"And with him they led away others, two evildoers, to be crucified."
(2) Omit e3teroi

11. On to our second reading. In its "original" phrasing, Lk 23:32 must have resounded as a potentially devastating text for the reputation of Jesus and his followers. Scholars generally agree that, in this instance, certain Alexandrian witnesses (P75, ), B) harbor the "original" rendering of the verse:

h1gonto de\ kai\ e3teroi kakou=rgoi du/o su\n au0tw|~ a)naireqh=nai.

"And with him they also led away two other evildoers to be crucified (my italics)."

So written, the text reported that Jesus was one of three evildoers (kakou=rgoi) summarily executed on the occasion. Commentators are likely correct that the writer of Luke penned these words with Isaiah 53:1214 in mind.15 But where to one schooled in the poetry of the Hebrew prophets, reckoning Jesus among transgressors sounded sublime, to one grounded in vernacular of pagan politics it sounded subversive. Among the most serious charges directed at Jesus and early Christians were those that described them as workers of iniquity, immorality, crime, and treason.16

12. Notice in this context, then, how the two forms of "intentional modification" located in the textual tradition function. In the first,17 a simple modification in word order (. . . e3teroi du/o kakou=rgoi . . .) makes the verse read, "And with him they led away others, two evildoers, to be crucified."18 In the second, the word "others" (e3teroi) is simply eliminated (Metzger 1992: 202). Each of these modifications functions to subordinate the term "evildoers" (kakou=rgoi), and to transform a potentially scandalous headline into a bland report: along with Jesus two criminals were also led away to be crucified. Thus did the product of scribes function to do away with the implication of treason.

Matthew 10:34

"Original" Text:"I have not come to bring (balei=n) peace but rather a sword" (maxari/a)
Modified Text:". . . I have come to bring division of mind" (diamerismo\n tw~n dia/noiwn)."

13. Next, consider the case of Mt 10:34. Where the author repeated the apocalyptic announcement of Jesus, "I have not come to bring (balei=n) peace but rather a sword" (maxari/a), the scribe responsible for the Curetonian Syriac substituted, "I have come to bring division of mind" (diamerismo\n tw~n dia/noiwn).

14. Almost unequivocally, this modification appears to be the product of a thinking scribe. Much like a smith with a hammer who has beaten a sword into a plowshare, this wordsmith has used a stylus not only to exchange "division" for "sword," but also to qualify the sort of "division" he has in mind as a thing "of mind." To hear this scribe tell the story, what Jesus came offering was neither "peace" nor "sword," but "division of mind," difference of opinion, distinction in thought. Such things are not cause for persecution or execution; they are the raw materials of philosophers. It was commonplace among apologists, such as Justin, to portray Christianity in the guise of a philosophy. More than mere assimilation, therefore, the reading produced here functions apologetically, transforming Jesus from a figure whose arrival bred contention to one whose presence induced followers to pursue a deeper, more precise way of thinking (to become philosophers).19

Matthew 9:13

"Original" Text:"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."
Interpolation:add "into repentance" (ei0j metanoi/an)

15. To pagan despisers of the faith, Jesus' declaration in Mt 9:13 that he had come to call "not the righteous but sinners" could have confirmed their suspicions that he was mustering brigands for some unseemly purpose. Ancient sources reveal that such rumors circulated among some outside the movement.20 For example, Celsus alleged that where "the other mysteries" summoned to their ranks persons marked by purity and wisdom, Christians welcomed to their fold "sinners" (Cels. III.59).

16. When Origen drafted his response to this point, it is telling to note, he did not deny that sinners were made privy to the Christian message, but what he vigorously insisted was that the purpose that lay behind this invitation was to effect their healing. Robbers assemble other robbers for the purpose of robbery; but Christians gather thieves, bandits, and other despicables for the purpose of spiritual transformation. The make-up of the assembly may appear the same, but the groups are distinguished by their purpose. Thus Origen defended his cause (Cels. III.60-61).

17. And thus is this rhetorical strategy from Contra Celsum mirrored in the variant reading of Mt 9:13. Important Caesarean and Majority witnesses along with others report a clearly secondary reading that elaborates and qualifies Jesus' purpose statement. To the end of his mission statement that Jesus had come to call not the righteous but sinners these witnesses add "into repentance" (ei0j metanoi/an).

18. Although scholars have usually explained the change in terms of assimilation to Lk 5:32, this explanation seems insufficient.21 The significant change in meaning wrought by this modification should not be ignored. Brief as this addendum is, it transforms the sentence and, in essence, defends the actions of Jesus. It introduces onto an otherwise suspicious behavior a new and noble motive. This ploy mirrors the methods we just outlined in the writings of the apologist, Origen, and that may also be located in Justin, Ap. I.15.8.22 The reading produced by some scribes, then, functions to clarify the troublesome ambiguity by means of embellishment. By inserting into their Matthean exemplar the end of the pronouncement Luke's qualifying phrase "into repentance," (ei0j metanoi/an), they effected a reading that deflected any implication that Jesus was in the business of marshaling miscreants. He was, rather, summoning sinners into repentance. Ministry not mayhem was his mission; piety not politics was his purpose. Such was the way these scribes recast Matthew's story--apologetically.

Mark 6:3

"Original" Text:ou0x ou[to/j e0stin o9 te/ktwn o9 ui9o\j th=j Mari/aj . . . ;
"Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary . . . ?"
Modified Text:ou0x ou[to/j e0stin o9 tou= tekto/noj ui9o\j kai\ th=j Mari/aj . . . ;
"Is this not the son of the carpenter and Mary . . . ?"

19. The popular perception that Christianity consisted of a sect constituted mainly by the lower laboring classes greatly contributed to the sense of disdain felt for the Jesus movement by its literate pagan critics. Caecilius, the characterized voice of paganism in the Octavius of Minucius Felix, for example, described the adherents of this sect as "dregs of the populace" (Minucius Felix, Oct. VIII, cited from LCL, 334-335). Fueling this perception in part may have been the report that the founder of the movement had earned his living as a common woodworker.23 Typical of the derision held in this regard by outsiders is the well-known ridicule of Celsus:

And everywhere they speak in their writings of the tree of life and of resurrection of the flesh by the tree--I imagine because their master was nailed to a cross and was a carpenter by trade. So that if he happened to be thrown off a cliff, or pushed into a pit, or suffocated by strangling, or if he had been a cobbler or stonemason or blacksmith, there would have been a cliff of life above the heavens, or a pit of resurrection, or a rope of immortality, or a blessed stone, or an iron of love, or a holy hide of leather. Would not an old woman who sings a story to lull a little child to sleep have been ashamed to whisper tales such as these (Cels. VI.34, cited from Chadwick 1953: 350)?
From their creative efforts to downplay or dismiss it altogether, it is evident that some apologetic writers encountered the perception that Jesus was a carpenter as degrading and problematic. Justin dismissed the issue in his Dialogue with Trypho by explaining that people presumed him to be a carpenter because Jesus customarily fashioned ploughs and yokes as symbols to teach righteousness and active living (Dial. 88, cited in ANCL, II, 212). More pointedly, Origen's direct reply to Celsus implied that his opponent had misread the text. "Furthermore," Origen wrote, "he did not observe that Jesus himself is not described as a carpenter anywhere in the gospels accepted in the churches" (Cels. VI.36).24

20. Origen's rejoinder begs the question of how he understood Mark 6:3, a citation which seems to contradict him.25 The clearly "original" text reported by all the uncials and most other minuscules and versions reads, ou0x ou[to/j e0stin o9 te/ktwn o9 ui9o\j th=j Mari/aj . . . ;, "Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary . . . ?"

21. It is unlikely that Origen would have been unacquainted with the principal reading, particularly in light of how Origen so carefully qualified his rebuttal. Jesus, he said, was not depicted as a carpenter "anywhere in the gospels accepted in the churches" (Cels. VI.36). The care with which he qualified his statement implies that Origen knew of gospels or readings that did in fact describe Jesus as a carpenter, but in the throes of Celsus' assault he rhetorically dismissed them.

22. In light of Origen's rebuttal, it is striking to examine the variant reading reported by a few Caesarean witnesses that insert the phrase tou= tekto/noj ui9o\j kai\ so that it reads, "Is this not the son of the carpenter and Mary . . . ?"26 Some scholars readily explain this modification in terms of assimilation to Matthew 13:55,27 but Kim Haines-Eitzen has argued that harmonization does not account for why Matthew and Luke changed their source nor for why some transcribers of Mk 6:3 opted for the longer reading (Haines-Eitzen 2000: 117).28 Moreover, there is the fact that the Palestinian Syriac alters the verse not by assimilation but by deletion, omitting o9 te/ktwn, and so reads, "Is this not the son of Mary . . . ?" (Metzger 1975: 89).29 This scribal change reflects no concern at all for harmonizing the verse to its Matthean parallel. The alteration does, however, effectively assuage the tensions felt by apologists associated with Jesus being a carpenter, and thereby functions apologetically.30 Whether by coincidence or design, the textual tradition frequently linked to Origen transmits an intentional modification that effectively undermines Celsus and validates Origen's apologetic argument against him.

Mark 1:41

"Original" Text:kai\ o0rgisqei\j e0ktei/naj th\n xei=ra au0tou= h1yato kai\ le/gei au0tw|~: qe/lw, kaqari/sqhti.
Feeling angry, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I will; be clean."
Modified Text:kai\ splagcnisqei\j e0ktei/naj th\n xei=ra au0tou= h1yato kai\ le/gei au0tw|~: qe/lw, kaqari/sqhti.
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, "I will; be clean."

23. Sources testify that for many of the participants in the apologetic dialogues of the second and third centuries the association of base human emotions with the divine character--particularly negative ones such as lust and anger--struck a strident chord. A profane temperament was, at best, uncharacteristic of a deity or a holy man.

24. Evidence located in the scribal tradition reveals that certain copyists of the New Testament apparently found this collision of hot-headedness with holiness equally shrill. A quintessential example of this occurs in Mk 1:41, a text familiar to all textual scholars. Although scholars have remained divided in their evaluation of this variant reading, a number of recent studies have made a compelling case that favor as the primary reading o0rgisqei\j, "feeling angry," over splagcnisqei\j, "moved with pity."31 Here, it seems evident, the scribes who supplanted "anger" with "compassion" produced a reading that clearly functions apologetically, depicting a more palatable, "kinder, gentler Jesus."

John 7:8

8 u9mei=j a)na&bhte ei0j th\n e9orth\n: e0gw_ ou0k [v.l. ou1pw] a)nabai/nw ei0j th\n e9orth\n tau/thn, o3ti o9 e0mo\j kairo\j ou1pw peplh/rwtai. 9 tau=ta de\ ei0pw_n au0toi=j e1meinen e0n th|= Galilai/a|. 10 79Wj de\ a)ne/bhsan oi9 a)delfoi\ au0tou=, to/te kai\ au0to\j a)ne/bh ei0j th\n e9orth/n, ou9 fanerw~j, a)ll' w~j e0n kruptw|~.
8 Go to the feast yourselves; I am not [v. l., not yet] going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come. 9 So saying, he remained in Galilee. 10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private.

25. Among the extant fragments of his work that are most clearly attributable to Porphyry is one that called attention to Jn 7:8, and used it to call into question the Jesus described there. Here Porphyry noted that Jesus first denied that he would visit Jerusalem, but then proceeded to arrive there (Jn 7:8-10) (Meredith 1981: 1134).32 His words have survived in Jerome and read as follows:

"Jesus said he would not go up, and he did what he had previously denied. Porphyry rants and accuses him of inconstancy and fickleness, not knowing that all scandals must be imputed to the flesh" (Jerome, Adv. Pelag. II.17).33

26. Judging from these remarks, it is easily ascertained that Porphyry's text read ou0k in verse 8. Moreover, he perceived between verses 8 and 10 either a breech of etiquette or an act of erratic vacillation (inconstantiae ac mutationis). In either case, Jesus' behavior as recorded in this rendering of John's narrative hardly reflected that of a holy figure boldly and decisively executing a foreordained, divine plan. This passage, then, is a text that was specifically enlisted by a pagan critic to denounce Jesus, either on the basis of his wavering disposition, or the historical infelicities of the gospel accounts. In any event, Porphyry adduced this text to the detriment of Christians.

27. But enter the scribes. The simple change of ou0k (not) to ou1pw (not yet), however, effectively quelled any impression of inconsistent action on the part of Jesus as seen in the comparison of verses 8 and 10. No longer, then, did the text present Jesus one moment asserting his decision not to journey to Jerusalem, only to change his mind and go there; rather, through the technology of scribal revision, John's narrative stated without equivocation that Jesus would not yet go up to Jerusalem along with his disciples, suggesting that he would, as he did, find his way there later. That move would have rendered impotent efforts on the part of pagan critics like Porphyry to adduce this text for antagonistic purposes.

Scribal Intention and Apologetic Interests

28. Having examined this sampler of "intentional" readings that appear to function apologetically, let us return to the issue of "scribal intentions." As is the case with many questions of this sort, definitions are critical. When we speak of a variant reading as "intentional," are we speaking only categorically, merely identifying a reading as other than "accidental"? Or, is it possible also to speak descriptively, to express something more substantial in terms of motivation and influence?

29. The scribes who produced the "intentional" readings we have just examined proved neither benign nor mechanical in their transmissional labors; rather, they showed themselves through the mutations they engendered to be sentient, mortal beings subject not only to banal error but also creative, sapient outbursts. Scribes such as these are in large measure responsible for the text of the New Testament surviving to the present; they are also almost exclusively responsible for the various and numerous flaws and corruptions that found their way into the textual tradition--errors, omissions, harmonizations, corrections, editorial and stylistic changes, and "intentional" modifications. Of course, we cannot presume to enter the mind of anonymous scribes. As students of history, we hardly dare presume to know the minds of historical figures whose names we are privy to and about whom we know much.

30. Yet, at the same time, we students of texts and histories are in large measure in the business of connecting dots. We look for connections between texts and their contexts. At some point, the matter boils down to this: at what point does an "act of quill" become an "act of will"? That is, at what point can we make a connection between an "intentional" modification to the text that functions, in our estimation, in a way that follows the contours of various historical, social, and theological influences of antiquity, and the intention of the scribe for his/her modification to function in such a discursive way? Do not the products of the scribe's hand--i. e., the modified readings themselves--function as "fingerprint" evidence for a deliberate act that was driven by some potentially discernible motive? It seems to me at this juncture in our discipline both reasonable and worthwhile to continue the attempt to make connections where sufficient evidence can be located between the function of a variant reading and the anonymous human agent's deliberate behavior to which we can reasonably assign the influence of recognizable social, historical, and theological forces. Much beyond this we probably cannot go. But go this far at least, it seems to me, we should try.

© TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 2006.


1This article represents a modified version of a paper delivered to the New Testament Textual Criticism Section of the 2003 annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature held in Toronto.

2I have used the publication of Kirsopp Lake's The Influence of Textual Criticism on the Exegesis of the New Testament (Lake 1904) as the watershed for this line of inquiry. Although one may discern even earlier in the work of Westcott and Hort sensitivity to historical forces, Hort's declaration that "there are no signs of deliberate falsification of the text for dogmatic purposes" (Westcott and Hort 1982: 282-283) served as an obstacle to this line of inquiry that was challenged eloquently and admirably by Lake when he termed the text of Westcott and Hort a "failure, though a splendid one"(Lake 1904: 3).

3The primary work is that of Eldon J. Epp, The Theological Tendency of Codex Cantabrigiensis in Acts (Epp 1966). See, however, Barrett 1979: 15-27, who challenges Epp's thesis on the grounds that the redactor responsible for Codex Bezae may have been exaggerating tendencies already located in Acts rather than imposing his own anti-Judaic bias. Still, in my judgment and that of many others, Epp's basic thesis stands. Historical and social forces may be reflected in what tendencies a scribe or editor mollifies or emphasizes in the process of transmission. Epp is not suggesting that Codex Bezae has been rewritten anew; he is noting that many of the changes in Acts underscore and enhance an anti-Judaic bias.

4For the influence of this dynamic on the text see, e.g., Schüssler Fiorenza 1983: 51-52; Witherington 1984: 82-84, and Witherington 1979: 243-248. For full-scale studies of how the subordination of women evolved in early Christianity see Schüssler Fiorenza 1983, Torjesen 1993, and Kraemer 1992.

5Although this dynamic has been studied less than some of the others, Bart Ehrman signals the potential of this avenue of study in his article, "The Text of the Gospels at the End of the Second Century," Ehrman 1996, esp. 121-122.

6This paper consists of reflections that rely heavily on the content, evidence, and arguments developed more fully in that work.

7In the words of Harris, "The Bible of any given church becomes affected by the church in which it circulates. The people who handle the text leave their finger-prints on the pages, and the trained detective can identify the criminal who made the marks" Harris 1925: 103.

8Several instances have been suggested in this volume. Perhaps the most obvious are the altered readings of Jn 7:8 and Mk 6:3. See the fuller discussions in Kannaday 2004: 132-142 and 185-188, respectively.

9Among those provocative ironies of history resides this fact: the sole reason there remains extant any single phrase from Celsus' True Logos, a work that proved significant in generating pagan hostilities against nascent Christianity, is that much of its content was preserved verbatim in the Christian apology Contra Celsum, a work penned as a favor to his friend and benefactor Ambrose by the learned Origen, who was himself later declared a heretic. For the critical Greek text see Borret 1968, and for the English translation Chadwick 1953. See also the background discussion in the initial chapter of this volume, pp. 38-40, and the notes there for other relevant bibliography.

It bears repeating here that scholars continue to dispute the lasting effects of True Logos and puzzle over why Ambrose commissioned Origen to craft an address to a polemical work nearly eighty years old. Joseph W. Trigg (Trigg 1983: 52-61), points out, however, that despite Origen's hesitation "to rescue from oblivion a work he had never heard of before" (53) revival of the critique of Celsus does appear to have played a part in engendering among the Roman ruling class a new wave of antipathy against Christians (61). Trigg notes further that Contra Celsum (ca. 248 or 249 C.E.) appeared in close chronological proximity to the advent of the Decian persecution (249-51 C.E.).

10Preserved, of course, in Origen, Cels. II.27. The translation is that of Chadwick (Chadwick 1953: 90).

11See, e.g., the arguments of Lucian in The Death of Peregrinus 11, and Caecilius in Octavius 8, as well as Justin Martyr's response in his First Apology 1.53 and Dialogue with Trypho 59.

12The predominantly "Western" and Caesarean witnesses D Q 0250 f1.13 1424 it vgcl syh Eus.

13Although, as Metzger points out, the passage could have fallen out as a result of homoeoteleuton (klh=ron . . . klh=ron), due to the impressive array of external witnesses (among them ) A B D L W G P 33 71 157 565 700 892 ff2 l vgmss the Ethiopic and most of the Syriac mss), as well as the likelihood of scribal assimilation to Jn 19:24, the committee felt their judgment merited an {A} rating.

14Isa 53:12 in the RSV reads, "Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (my italics).

15See, e.g., Craddock 1990: 271. For specific reference to Isa 53:12 in the text of the Gospels see Lk 22:37 and the textual variant at Mk 15:28. This variant will be discussed presently.

16See, in particular, the polemic of Celsus recorded in Origen's Contra Celsum, especially I.61-62, II.31, and VIII.14.

17Commentators widely agree that this variance in word order issues directly from an apologetic impulse to nullify the implied identification of Jesus as an evildoer. See for example Metzger 1992: 202; Fitzmyer 1981: 2:1499; Plummer 1922: 530.

18These witnesses include A C D L W Q C 070 0250 f1.13 Maj syh.

19Scholars are quick to point out the likelihood that the scribe responsible for this change borrowed from Luke 12:51 the words, "but division" (a)ll' h2 diamerismo/n), and assimilated them into his copy of Matthew. Yet, once again, that does not completely explain the change. Not only did the responsible scribe transpose Luke into Matthew, s/he also introduced two new words into the text, thereby qualifying "division" (diamerismo/n) with "of mind" (tw~n dia&noiwn).

20S. Benko, e.g., summarizes it well: "At the first trial of the Christians Pliny suspected in the movement conspiracy; it was not superstition that made it punishable but the belief that it was a secret gathering, dangerous for the peace and tranquility of society and not serving the interests of the state, the utilitas publica" (Benko 1980: 1075-1076). Cf. Pliny, Letters 10.96.

21As it in fact is by W. D. Davies and D. Allison (Davies and Allison 1988: 105, n. 108).

22Of course there is no way to know if Justin is citing Lk 5:32 or an amended Mt 9:13 (or is adapting the text himself); but we can discern that Justin favored the form of the saying that offered a palatable explanation for why Jesus called sinners.

23While generations earlier the apostle Paul had taken pride in declaring that he had chosen to earn his own living and thus forego his deserved right to live off the alms of his congregations, by the time the apologists were interfacing with the prevailing culture, the image of Jesus as a working carpenter had become for them something of an embarrassment.

24The complete sentence in Greek reads, ou0damou= tw~n e0n tai=j e0kklhsi/aij ferome/nwn eu0aggeli/wn te/ktwn au0to\j o9 70Ihsou=j a0nage/graptai.

25Bruce Metzger considers that either Origen did not recall Mk 6:3 or that he was acquainted with this verse through copies that had already been assimilated to Matthew (Metzger 1975: 88-89, n. 1).

26The witnesses include f13, (565), 700), along with P45, 33vid, (579, 2542), it, vgmss, and bomss.

27See, e.g., the discussions in Lagrange 1966: 148-149; Taylor 1966: 299-300; and Gnilka 1979: 231-32. Gnilka's assessment is that the reading "the carpenter, the Son of Mary" represents the "original" reading; "the son of the carpenter" shows the influence of Mt 13:55, and the reading "the son of the carpenter and of Mary" is a conflate reading.

28See the rest of her careful treatment of this variant reading, 117-118, in which she, too, concludes that this text has been modified for apologetic purposes. See also his treatment of Mk 6:3 as reflective of apologetic interests in Ehrman 1996: 118.

29Cf. Lagrange 1966: 148, who identifies the source of this change as the Harclean Syriac.

30Noteworthy also is the fact that many of the witnesses attesting to the earlier modification reside in the so-called Caesarean tradition, described by scholars as the text brought to Caesarea from Egypt by Origen. See Metzger 1975: xix. For a more thorough treatment of the Caesarean text see Metzger 1945: 457-489.

31Although the editors of the UBSGNT maintain splagnisqei/j as the "original" reading, Bruce Metzger notes vacillation on the part of the committee members by reporting their {D} rating of this reading (Metzger 1975: 76-77). For a lucid and compelling argument that favors o0rgisqei'j as the "original" reading see Ehrman 1996: 118-120. For a fuller treatment of this variant reading as a product of apologetic influence see my own Apologetic Discourse and the Scribal Tradition (Kannaday 2004: 130-34).

32Meredith explains that of the twenty-five fragments (nos. 48-72) collected by Harnack few can be attributed with certainty to Porphyry, but are derived in actuality from the writings of Macarius Magnes. Thus, he explains, much of the New Testament criticism attributed to Porphyry by P. Labriolle should not be considered. The fragment regarding Jn 7:8-10 is a notable exception.

33Jesus iturum se negavit, et fecit quod prius negaverat. Latrat Porphyrius; inconstantiae ac mutationis accusat, nescius omnia scandala ad carnem esse referenda.


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