The Plain Truth about Hebrew Matthew
The Evidence of Corruption in Shem Tob's Matthew
James Scott Trimm
(Pictured above, a page from the actual manuscript of DuTillet Hebrew Matthew.)
In part one, I showed a close relationship exists between the DuTillet/Munster Hebrew versions of Matthew and the Shem Tob Hebrew version of Matthew. In part two, I intend to show that the Shem Tob text shows several layers of revision and corruption, making it far less valuable to us than the DuTillet/Munster texts.
First of all we cannot know how many scribal hands Shem Tob's text passed through before becoming transcribed into the EVEN BOHAN. We cannot easily identify those that revised the text. It is also not always possible to identify their motives, since sometimes their motive is simply that they are supplying missing material to a defective manuscript which they are copying from. However in general terms I think that ShemTob underwent revision by the following:
A. A "heretical" Jewish-Christian of some kind, perhaps an Ebionite. This revision took place very early (100-400 C.E.?)
(I realize that some would argue that revision A never took place and that the so called "heretical" readings are the original condition of Matthew, but I do not agree)
B. Another reviser (or revisers) seemed to have it in mind to bring the text into conformity with Greek and Latin versions.
C. Another reviser adds several "in another language" interpolations.
Example: Matt. 2:11
"They... brought to him... myrrh, in another language, mira"
(other examples: 3:7; 4:10; 4:13; 4:21; 4:23; 5:31; 6:2; 6:28; 6:30; 8:6; 8:28; 9:2; 9:9; 11:21; 12:4; 12:42; 13:25; 16:13; 16:16; 17:1; 23:5; 24:14; 26:13; 27:33)
None of these "in another language" interpolations occur in DuTillet/Munster.
D. Another hand of revision modified many proper nouns in ShemTob to more European forms.
Greek: ...and he shall be called a Nazarene.
ShemTob ...and he shall be called "Nazareth" (nun-alef-zayin-resh-tav)
DuTillet ...and he shall be called "Nazareth" (nun-tzadhe-resh-tav)
Note that the reading "Nazareth" rather than "Nazarene" is unique to the Hebrew tradition, but the spelling of ShemTob's "Nazareth" has been Europeanized.
E. Another reviser I believe revised some of the vocabulary to later Hebrew dialects such as Mishnaic Hebrew.
Example: Mt. 4:17:
Greek ... repent...
Shem Tob ... turn you (KHAZARU) in repentance...
DuTillet ...turn you (SHUVU) in repentance...
Note that the phrase "turn you in repentance" is unique to the Hebrew tradition, but the Shem Tob text has revised SHUV to Mishnaic Hebrew
KHAZAR (in fact throughout Matthew Shem Tob revises SHUV to KHAZAR). Thus establishing a revision toward more Mishnaic vocabulary in Shem Tob.
Now it is unlikely that revision B could have occurred before Revision A and it also seems unlikely (but not impossible) that reviser B would not have "fixed" the "heretical" passages of reviser A. Thus it could be that at some point in the history of this text two manuscripts were merged, one which had undergone revision A and another which had undergone revision B.
Perhaps a scribe had two damaged manuscripts and so drew his material from each of them. Or perhaps a manuscript containing revision A came into a scribe's hands but was damaged, so he repaired it (perhaps from memory) by translating from a Greek and/or Latin version. This process of repair may have occured more than once. (This is similar to Erasmus who filled in holes in his Greek Revelation (the Textus Receptus) by translating into Greek from the Latin Vulgate.)
The DuTillet Hebrew Mattew is available in Hebrew and English in parallel columns, as well as my book The Hebrew and Aramaic Origin of the New Testament which deals with Hebrew Matthew in detail.
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