New Testament Studies

Short Study

Re-inking the Pen: Evidence from P. Oxy. 657 (P13) Concerning Unintentional Scribal Errors

P. M. Heada1 and M. Warrena1

a1 Oak Hill College, Chase Side, Southgate, London N14 4PS

New Testament textual critics customarily discuss scribal errors under two headings: intentional errors and unintentional, accidental, or involuntary errors. Intentional errors are those made deliberately in order to improve or correct the text and involve corrections made to spelling or grammar, harmonisation to other passages (whether in the immediate context, in a parallel passage, or in an Old Testament source), and liturgical or theological enhancement. These might all be traced to the conscious activity of the scribe.1 Unintentional errors, on the other hand, can be distinguished (in theory at least) as arising not from conscious scribal activity but from involuntary mistakes of eye, ear, memory, judgment, pen or speech.2 These errors involve accidental additions, especially dittography (writing twice something that is only once in the exemplar), omissions, either by haplography (writing once something that is twice in the exemplar) or through homoioteleuton (a confusion due to similar endings of words or lines in the exemplar), or other sorts of confusions of letters or words.3