Homoioteleuton is one of the many daunting words of textual criticism.  Fortunately, the word’s meaning is less daunting than its form.  Greek for “like ending,” it simply refers to a scribe skipping over a line (or more) while copying a manuscript, due to similar line endings.  I found an example this morning while working on the Origen manuscript: in my own transcription!

As I was reading back over my transcription, I came upon the following lines

μήποτε γὰρ κ’ἄν ἐξωβάλλει
ἀλλὰ εἶδός τι αὐτοῦ.

 

Something seemed amiss, (ἐξωβάλλει belongs in the subjunctive, for one) so I opened up the PDF of manuscript to the corresponding page.  Sure enough, I had made an error:

image

 

The three lines read,

.. θεόν, μήποτε γὰρ, κ’ἄν ἐξωβάλλῃ

τὸν φόβον, οὐχὶ ὅλον αὐτὸν ἐκβάλλει,

ἀλλὰ εἶδός τι αὐτοῦ. οἶδα γὰρ καὶ…

“[the question is] whether, when [love] casts

out fear, it does not cast it out entirely,

but only one form of it.  For I know that…”

[brackets merely provide context]

Sure enough, what I had as ἐξωβάλλει was actually in the subjunctive: ἐξωβάλλῃ.  Because the first two lines end in similar fashion (ἐξωβάλλῃ/ἐκβάλλει), it looks like I conflated the two readings to produce ἐξωβάλλει, and cut the intervening line.  The result didn’t make very much sense, and as a result I caught the error when reading over it. 

This was a humble reminder to me that I’m just as susceptible to all the various “scribal phenomena” as those who wrote the manuscripts I’m reading!  Textual work, then, as now, requires a careful hand and a careful eye if we’re to minimize errors like this one.

ἐν αὐτῷ,

ΜΑΘΠ

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