Friday, April 03, 2015


Some Missing Words in Acts 17.34

Acts of the Apostles 17.34 (Revised Standard Version):
But some men joined him and believed, among them Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

τινὲς δὲ ἄνδρες κολληθέντες αὐτῷ ἐπίστευσαν, ἐν οἷς καὶ Διονύσιος ὁ Ἀρεοπαγίτης καὶ γυνὴ ὀνόματι Δάμαρις καὶ ἕτεροι σὺν αὐτοῖς.
I don't have a copy of Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 4th ed. (London: United Bible Societies, 1994), but I think he commented on this verse as follows (translation in square brackets added by me):
The omission in codex Bezae of the words καὶ γυνὴ ὀνόματι Δάμαρις ["and a woman named Damaris"] has been taken by some (e.g. Wm.M. Ramsay) to be another indication of the anti-feminist attitude of the scribe (see the comment on ver. 12 above). It is, however, more likely, as A.C. Clark suggests, that a line in an ancestor of codex Bezae had been accidentally omitted, so that what remains in D is ἐν οἷς καὶ Διονύσιός τις Ἀρεοπαγείτης εὐσχήμων καὶ ἕτεροι σὺν αὐτοῖς ("among whom also was a certain Dionysius, an Areopagite of high standing, and others with them"). In either case, however, the concluding phrase σὺν αὐτοῖς suggests that Luke originally specified more than one person (Dionysius) as among Paul's converts.
A different explanation for the omission of the words καὶ γυνὴ ὀνόματι Δάμαρις occurred to me. The antecedent of the relative pronoun οἷς is ἄνδρες (nominative plural of ἀνήρ). The primary meaning of ἀνήρ is "man, opp. woman" (Liddell-Scott-Jones), i.e. "a man as opposed to a woman." Could a scribe have reasoned as follows?
  1. In Athens some men (τινὲς δὲ ἄνδρες) joined Paul.
  2. Damaris was a woman (γυνή).
  3. As a woman, Damaris cannot be counted among these men who joined Paul.
  4. The words καὶ γυνὴ ὀνόματι Δάμαρις therefore appear to contradict the words τινὲς δὲ ἄνδρες.
  5. I've already written ἄνδρες. Instead of blotting it out, I'll omit καὶ γυνὴ ὀνόματι Δάμαρις to avoid the contradiction.
Just idle speculation, in which even I don't put much stock.

Acts of the Apostles 17.34, in Codex Bezae, fol. 489 v

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