So, I’ve been reading Second Clement lately. Today, while looking at 2Cl 3 in $amz(080103468X Holmes’ Apostolic Fathers), and I noticed an interesting—in light of 1Ti 2.4—variant. Convienently, we only have Second Clement extant in two Greek editions (and one Syriac). So I’m assuming that Holmes has been exhaustive in his variants (outside of orthographical issues) between Codex Alexandrinus (5th century) and Codex Heirosolymitanus (9th century).
Here’s Holmes’ text (with interesting section in bold):
Τοσοῦτον οὖν ἔλεος ποιήσαντος αὐτοῦ εἰς ἡμᾶς—πρῶτον μέν, ὅτι ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες τοῖς νεκροῖς θεοῖς οὐ θύομεν καὶ οὐ προσκυνοῦμεν αὐτοῖς, ἀλλὰ ἔγνωμεν διʼ αὐτοῦ τὸν πατέρα τῆς ἀληθείας—τίς ἡ γνῶσις ἡ πρὸς αὐτόν, ἢ τὸ μὴ ἀρνεῖσθαι διʼ οὗ ἔγνωμεν αὐτόν; (2Cl 3.1, Holmes Greek)
Seeing, then, that he has shown us such mercy—first of all, that we who are living do not sacrifice to dead gods, nor do we worship them, but through him have come to know the Father of truth—what else is knowledge with respect to him if it is not refusing to deny him through whom we have come to know him? (2Cl 3.1, Holmes English)
Holmes follows Alexandrinus (which is usually, apart from orthography, a smart idea, according to none other than J.B. Lightfoot). But note Heirosolymitanus’ reading:
Τοσοῦτον οὖν ἔλεος ποιήσαντος αὐτοῦ εἰς ἡμᾶς—πρῶτον μέν, ὅτι ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες τοῖς νεκροῖς θεοῖς οὐ θύομεν καὶ οὐ προσκυνοῦμεν αὐτοῖς, ἀλλὰ ἔγνωμεν διʼ αὐτοῦ τὸν πατέρα τῆς ἀληθείας—τίς ἡ γνῶσις της αληθειας, ἢ τὸ μὴ αὐτόν διʼ οὗ ἔγνωμεν; (2Cl 3.1, Heirosolymitanus)
Haven’t thought much about the deletion/pronoun shift at the end of the verse, but note how “knowledge concerning him” in Alexandrinus is “knowledge concerning the truth” in Heirosolymitanus. That evokes 1Ti 2.4:
ὃς πάντας ἀνθρώπους θέλει σωθῆναι καὶ εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας ἐλθεῖν. (1Ti 2.4, NA27)
who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.(1 Ti 2:4, ESV)
Of course, there are some explanations for the Heirosolymitanus reading. της αληθειας echoes the earlier phrase, “father of the truth”; it could be a scribe’s errant duplication of that phrase. But that doesn’t necessarily account for the balance of changes, does it? The balance of the changes in this verse, I’d guess, force consideration of a deliberate change, not an errant one. That is, it seems to me the balance of the changes make the first change work. In that light, who knows which one is the better reading? In this case, we have the “majority rules” trump card — the Syriac witness supports Holmes’ reading.
I scanned the rest of the variants to see if there might be some gnostic vibe to the differences in Greek editions, but didn’t see any. My guess is that Holmes (and Lake, and Lightfoot) is right.
But still interesting to think about nonetheless. It also goes to show why familiarity with period texts (in this case, Apostolic Fathers and the New Testament) helps so much when thinking about text-critical issues.