Dan Batovici, «Eriugena’s Greek Variant Readings of the Fourth Gospel.», Vol. 26 (2013) 69-86
In a 1912 note of less than two pages, E. Nestle presented a number of instances where Eriugena mentions several readings of the Greek text of the Gospel of John which did not survive in our manuscripts and which where not mentioned by Souter or Tischendorf. He stressed that such an example ‘shews that even so late an author deserves the attention of an editor of the Greek New Testament’ (596), before asking where these would fit in the manuscript tradition of John. This article will follow Nestle’s suggestion and re-examine the variant readings offered by Eriugena – all explicit quotations – in light of the post-1912 developments in textual scholarship on both the Greek text of John and on Eriugena’s works devoted to the Fourth Gospel.
Eriugena’s Greek Variant Readings of the Fourth Gospel 75
Of far more consequence for the present analysis is that both are
confidently maintaining – on textual grounds – that the manuscript
tradition of the homily does not allow us to correct αὐτὸς to οὗτος19
in order to dismiss the variant. Accordingly, even though we can not
know for sure what was the nature of the manuscripts Eriugena mentions
(graecorum exemplaribus), it is nonetheless safe to say that he explicitly
knows this specific variant. As said, the variant does not seem to appear
in any other witness, and should probably be considered for inclusion in
any apparatus that includes Patristic evidence for the text of John.
Jn 1:13 οἳ οὐκ ἐξ αἱμάτων ἀλλ᾽ ἐκ θεοῦ ἐγεννήθησαν
Hom. xxi. Qvi non ex sangvnibus neqve ex volvntate carnis neqve ex
volvntate viri sed ex deo nati svnt (in antiquis graecorum exempla-
ribus solummodo scribitur: Qvi non ex sangvinibus sed ex deo nati
‘They who are born not from blood, nor from the will of the flesh, nor
from the will of man, but from God’ (in the old Greek manuscripts
‘who are born not from blood, but from God’ only is written).20
This is the first fragment noted by Nestle, the one which made him
suggest that, although Eriugena is so late an author, and absent from
Tischendorf’s list of authors who are important for the Greek NT, he
would still deserve the attention of an editor. In the homily, this is the
initial quotation of Jn 1:13, followed by its exegesis. However, since no
separate interpretation is offered here for this shorter Greek variant, it
has the appearance of a simple note.
The first question to address is the following: how reliable is this
Johannine quotation as an Eriugenian reading? In other words, is the
quotation something Eriugena wrote, or can it be simply explained
through alterations in the transmission of the homily?
Jeauneau signalled the oddity of the sentence by placing the whole
remark in parentheses. The latest edition of the homily rests on 73
manuscripts, and this rather high number is usually regarded to be a
direct result of the fact that the homily was long attributed to Origen, due
to the allegorical feel to its exegesis. The textual stemma of the homily
proposed by Jeauneau comprises two main classes of manuscripts. One
of the features differentiating between the two is precisely the presence or
absence of the note concerning the shorter variant found in some Greek
Cristiani, Il Prologo, 95-96; Jeauneau, SC 151, 231, n. 3: “Il faut lire sans hésiter
αὐτὸς, et non οὗτος [...].”
O’Meara, Eriugena, 174.