Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Robertson on η and ι in New Testament Manuscripts

(c) THE CHANGES WITH η. The changes between η and α, η and ε have already been discussed. η and ι. As already stated, originally H was merely the rough breathing, but the Ionic psilosis left a symbol useless, and heta was called eta.2 Thus the new letter took the old long ε value in Ionic and Attic and also largely supplanted the long α where α became e. The Sanskrit used long a, the Greek η and the Latin either e or i. This new (in spelling) η (v/B.c.) gradually turned more to the i sound in harmony with the growing itacism of the language, though there was some etacism on the other hand.3 As early as 150 B.C. the Egyptian papyri show evidence of the use of ι for η.4 By the middle of the second century A.D. the confusion between η and ι, η and ει, ηι and ει is very general. By the Byzantine times it is complete and the itacism is triumphant in the modern Greek.5 Reinhold6 thinks that the exchange between η and ι was natural in view of the relation between η and ε and the interchange between ε and ι. As early as the fifth century B.C. the change between η and ι is seen on vases and inscriptions. But the Ptolemaic papyri show little of it and it is rare in the LXX MSS. א‬,AB (Thackeray, Gr., p. 85). In the N. T. times the interchanges between η and ι, η and ει, ηι and ει are not many. In 1 Cor. 4:11 W. H. read γυμνιτεύω, though L and most of the cursives have η. The N. T. always has δηνάριον, though δινάριον appears very early.7  For κάμηλος in Mt. 19:24 and Lu. 18:25 a few late cursive MSS. substitute κάμιλος (‘rope’), a word found only in Suidas and a scholium on Arist. But "it is certainly wrong,"8 a mere effort to explain away the difficulty in the text, an effort as old as Cyril of Alexandria on Luke. For Κυρήνιος B9 it. vg. sah. have Κυρῖνος, while B* has Κυρεῖνος and A has Κηρύνιος, a striking example of itacism, η, ι, ει, υ having the same sound in these MSS. The N. T. MSS. give σιμικίνθιον in Ads 19:12, but Liddell and Thayer both suggest σημ. as an alternative spelling like the Latin semi-cinctium. So also the best MSS. in Rev. 18:12 read σιρικός, though some cursives have σηρικός (like Jos. and others), and still others συρικός.9 Indeed in 1 Pet. 2:3 for χρηστός L and many cursives have Χριστός. The heathen misunderstood the word Χριστός and confounded it with the familiar χρηστός, pronounced much alike. Suetonius (Claudius 25) probably confused Christus with Chrestus. In Ac. 11:26, א‬ have Χρηστιανούς, while B has Χρειστ. So in Ac. 26:28 א‬, has Χρηστιανόν for Χριστ., while B has again ει. The same thing occurs in 1 Pet. 4:16.

1. Thumb, Hellen., p. 92.
2. Hort, Handb. d. Griech. etc., p. 63.
3. Thumb, Hellen., p. 98 f.
4. Brug., Griech. Gr., p. 29. Cf. also Thumb, Hellen., p. 138. In Boeotia also η and ι interchange in ii/B.C. Cf. W.-Sch., p. 46. Mayser (Gr., p. 82) cites from a Hom. pap. of i/B.C. ἔθικε for ἔθηκε, and per contra (p. 84) ἀφήκετο
5. Schweizer, Gr. d. perg. Inschr., p. 47. He gives ἐπή for ἐπί from a Byz. inscr.
6. De Graec. Patr. etc., p. 41. Cf. also Meisterh., Gr. d. att. Inschr., p. 34 f
7. Blass, Ausspr. d. Griech., pp. 37, 94.
8. Hort, Notes on Orth., p. 151.
9. Ib., refers to σιρικοποιός in Neap. inscr. (C. I. G. 5834). In the mod. Gk. η = ι in pronunciation. Cf. Thumb, Handb. d. neugr. Volkerspr., p. 2. W.-Sch. (p. 46) mention θήβην, θίβην, θείβην, in Ex. 2:3-6.

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