Origen and the Text of Acts

It has been a while since I have posted here. Largely  because I have been busy working on my dissertation on Origen’s text of Acts. In fact, it was my work on Origen, that caused me to name this blog Stan’s Σχόλια (scholia) since Origen left many scholia, or marginal notes, or catenae, and also fragments preserved by other writers.

As I complete the dissertation, I can begin to share some of my findings, saving the ultimate findings for the dissertation itself.

To get to this point, I have collected every citation and allusion in Origen’s extant writing to the text of Acts. Though I will only use the Greek materials for the reconstruction of Origen’s text of Acts, I have collected everything–and some of it is remotely related to the text to which it is suppose to allude.

As scholars have known, not a great deal of Acts survives in Origen and this will create some challenges in being confident about the overall nature of the text or texts of Acts used by him. However, since a comprehensive collection and analysis of what is available has not been done (at least not recorded), then it is worth the work. Even the incidentals on particular texts of Acts have been enlightening.

At this stage I’m currently  analyzing Origen’s text against representative MSS of what has been traditionally called text-types: Alexandrian (primary and secondary), the ‘Western,’ namely Codex Bezae (D), and the Byzantine tradition.

MS 1739 is getting a lot of attention since previous scholars have shown that it has some affinity with Origen, especially the text of Romans in it. Some have thought that 1739 might also be close to Origen in Acts.

It has been interesting to revisit Tom Geer’s work on 1739. Tom was one of my professors at ACU. Tom showed that 1739 was a secondary Alexandrian text in Acts.

So if you are interested in this type of stuff, follow along.

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9 Comments

Filed under New Testament, Textual Criticism

9 responses to “Origen and the Text of Acts

  1. Looking forward to seeing what you have to say on this subject, Stan.

    Are you depending much on echoes of Origen in Latin (Cassiodorus, et al)? If so, how do you guard against corruptions in the transmission of Origen’s own compositions that might consist of conformations to text-forms not really used by Origen?

    • snhelton

      James, I’m following the general procedure found in the SBLNTGF series. Therefore, only Greek from critical editions of Origen’s are used in the reconstruction of Origen’s text of Acts. I have collected everything Latin translations, Greek stuff in PG, and catenae. However, allusions or echoes in other writers are not gathered for several reasons, most notably, as you have mentioned, history of transmission issues.

  2. And doesn’t Origen have a special situation with the Latin of Rufinus, where Rufinus is specifically saying that he is giving an Origen text, not just an echo, in Latin translation (although at times he is accused of padding in his own updates)? How are those references handled in the apparatuses?

    • snhelton

      Steven, I’m not using the Latin of Rufinus, Jerome, or Anonymous, for the reconstruction of Origen’s text of Acts. There are several problems here. Rufinus abridged, condensed, and altered Origen’s original. He probably accommodated citations of Scripture to his Latin text, too. If he didn’t, then sometimes later scribes did. Besides these issues, back-translating from Latin to Greek is hazardous and limited. Latin can sometimes show word order, but tells us nothing about articles. Still I have collected all of the Latin data for comparison purposes but will not use it other than to note here and there where it seems to differ from the Greek. I will mark these for now as ORLat, though later I might do ORRuf, ORJer, ORAnon, etc.

  3. Stan,
    So what were your general conclusions?
    Can you provide an exact proportion that expresses what ratio of Origen’s utilizations of Acts agree with the family-1739 text, while disagreeing with the Byzantine text (using RP-2005 as the basis of comparison)?

  4. snhelton

    James, Origen’s text of Acts was not that of 1739 but more in agreement with Vaticanus, which Ropes and other had pointed out, but had never done any quantitative work. Out of 117 significant variants I isolated from Origen’s Acts, Origen agreed with B 92/117 (78.63%) while my Byzantine witnesses averaged among them 57.64% (using L020 P025 049 35 69 as my control group). I would imagine that RP-2005 would yield similar results but did not use it. Though I might now that you have pointed to it.

  5. snhelton

    BTW, 1739 yielded 78/117.

  6. What would be the proportion of agreement (XX/117) between Origen’s text of Acts and, say, the text in minuscule 699?

  7. snhelton

    James, I did not include 699 as one of my control mss nor did the CNTTS database have it either. However, I would suspect it to range from 58–69 / 117 given what I generally understand about 699. But actually counting is the only way to know for sure. Since von Soden thought this MS represented the early Byzantine, it may be even higher.

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