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The Apocalypse in Codex Alexandrinus: Exegetical Reasoning and Singular Readings in New Testament Greek Manuscripts

Garrick V. Allen
Journal of Biblical Literature
Vol. 135, No. 4 (Winter 2016), pp. 859-880
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.15699/jbl.1354.2016.3107
Page Count: 22
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The Apocalypse in Codex Alexandrinus: Exegetical Reasoning and Singular Readings in New Testament Greek Manuscripts
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Abstract

This article explores the ways in which the textual history of the New Testament functions as evidence for its early reception history, and how this layer of reception sheds light on the social realities that stand behind textual transmission. The wording of the book of Revelation in Codex Alexandrinus (A02) serves as an illuminating test case, in that it allows us to focus on singular readings that arose from exegetical reasoning linked to scribal awareness of allusions. I begin by exploring the various social and exegetical motivations that influenced scribes to alter the wording of their Vorlagen. I argue that many singular readings can be explained as efforts to explicate the text's deep structure, emphasizing instances where textual variation creates heightened affiliations with antecedent scriptural traditions (“external harmonization”). Next, I examine the wording of Rev 11:4 and 14:9 in A02. The textual evidence indicates that the scribe of A02 was aware of the lexical details of two distinct traditions (OG/LXX Exod 25–26 and 2 Chr 32:12) and that this copyist altered the wording of Revelation in a way that was indicated by the text's implied connection to these traditions. I conclude by offering some observations about the typology of singular readings and scribal awareness of the textual details of the breadth of the scriptural tradition, as well as some reflections on the lessons that New Testament textual critics can learn from the study of the Hebrew Bible in the late Second Temple period.

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