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.
76 Dan Batovici
manuscripts of Jn 1:13. The class generally regarded as the better one
does not have the note. Jeauneau considers this to be the purer text: the
note would simply throw off the rhythm of the otherwise very careful
Eriugenian style. One particular manuscript, however, has readings from
both classes, including this note. Jeauneau argues that it represents a
tradition anterior to the separation of the two classes, rather than being
a manuscript contaminated by both classes.
Furthermore, engaging specifically the textual questions from Nestle’s
article, he considers this phrase to be most likely Eriugenian, on the count
that it is definitely an observation Eriugena would write, as he does on
many occasions in the Homily and the Commentary on John. In Jeauneau’s
words: “Si j’ai enfermé cette remarque dans des parenthèses, ce n’est pas
que je la considère comme inauthentique. … J’ai mis entre parenthèses les
mots In antiquis-nati sunt, parce que je les considère comme une glose,
inscrite par Jean Scot lui-même en marge de son homélie, qu’un copiste
aura voulu, par la suite, incorporer au texte.”21 Jeauneau then shows how
the model he proposes is not without parallel: a manuscript of Eriugena’s
main work, Periphyseon, displays plenty of marginal notes which have
been identified as autographs and which, in later manuscripts, have been
incorporated in the main text.22
I would follow Jeauneau in considering this a highly probable
Eriugenian note; the introductory formula is similar enough to other
instances. For example, in chapter VI of the homily, it reads: Sed
significantius ex graecorum exemplaribus potest intelligi. We have here the
same vocabulary in mentioning Greek manuscripts: in or ex graecorum
exemplaribus. It is also a rather unlikely thing to add to Eriugena’s text.
Given that Eriugena is known to have worked with the text of a number
of Greek fathers, a further question would be: could he have found this
reading in their texts? It is altogether possible. Yet, to our knowledge,
from the list of Greek authors Eriugena read and used, only Epiphanius
is mentioned as offering shorter versions of Jn 1:13. However, he only
“cuts” one part or the other, never both “flesh will” and “man will,” so far
as we know.23
I would then propose that it is not unreasonable to regard the phrase
qvi non ex sangvinibus sed ex deo nati svnt as a Patristic variant reading
for Jn. 1:13. It should perhaps make it into an apparatus of John that
Jeauneau, SC 151, 339.
Jeauneau, CCCM 166, lii, n. 74.
See the discussion concerning Jn 1:13 (which does not include Eriugena) in P.
Lamarche, “Le prologue de Jean,” Recherches de science religieuse 52 (1964) 497-537,
reprinted in his Christ vivant: essai sur la christologie du Nouveau Testament (Paris: Les
Éditions du Cerf, 1966) 87-140, esp. 94-100.