Wally V. Cirafesi, «Tense-Form Reduction and the Use of 'epoiesate' in Codex Bezae Matthew 21,13//Mark 1,17.», Vol. 26 (2013) 61-68
This short study employs the concept of tense-form reduction from the perspective of Hellenistic Greek aspectology to explain the reading epoiesate in Codex Bezae Matthew 21,13//Mark 11,17. The article suggests that the Bezen scribe has chosen (consciously or unconsciously) to reduce the aspectual semantics of the verb poieo from the imperfective Present (Matt) and the stative Perfect (Mark) to the perfective Aorist. The textual effect of this choice is that Jesus’ pronouncement of judgment on those buying and selling in the temple is emphasized less in the text of Bezae, since it stands in the background of Jesus’ speech frame. This finding has significant implications for proposals regarding the anti-Judaic bias of Codex Bezae, particularly as demonstrated by its version of the Markan temple cleansing episode.
Tense-Form Reduction and the Use of ἐποιήσατε in Codex Bezae 65
of Bezae wished to harmonize the more elaborate Matthean and Markan
accounts with their negligible parallel in Luke.
b. Latinization of the Greek
Another possibility is that Bezae’s shift in tense-form reflects some
sort of constraint put on the scribe by the Greek’s Latin counterpart13.
Since Latin lacks a semantic equivalent to the Greek Perfect, the use
of ἐποιήσατε in Matt 21,13//Mark 11,17 could derive from a simple
desire to accommodate the limitations of the Latin verbal system. But
this explanation does not quite fit the available evidence. First, if the
scribe was restricted to the use of the Aorist to render the Latin Perfect
(fecistis in Matthew; fecis in Mark), we would expect to see this sort of
technique employed consistently. But this is not the case. Whatever his
level of facility with Greek, the Bezan scribe certainly knew the Greek
Perfect as a representative option for the Latin Perfect. For example,
the Perfect participles ligatam//ligatum are represented in Greek as the
Perfect participles δεδεμένην//δεδεμένον in Matt 21,2//Mark 11,2, and
the Perfect scriptum in Matt 21,13//Mark 11,17 is represented by the
Perfect γέγραπται. Second, Aorists are able to represent not only Latin
Perfects but Latin Presents as well14. The opposite is also true; that is, Latin
Perfects can be represented by Greek Presents (e.g., solverunt = λύουσιν,
Mark 11,4). Thus, there is nothing in the Latin here that seems to have
restricted the scribe absolutely to the use of the Aorist ἐποιήσατε15.
c. Tense-Form Reduction and Textual Emphasis
Here I suggest a third, more likely, reason for the tense-form change
in Bezae based on the concept of tense-form reduction. At its most
fundamental level, tense-form reduction refers to occasions when an author
uses a less marked tense-from in the place of one that had previously
This position would, of course, presuppose that Codex Bezae had Latin origins,
and thus that its Latin columns influenced the Greek columns. In his extensive study of
Bezae, Parker suggests a Latin origin for the bilingual codex, but contends that “rather than
wholesale Latinization of the Greek, a far more subtle reciprocal process was at work, in
which each [Latin and Greek] column moulded the other” (D.C. Parker Codex Bezae: An
Early Christian Manuscript and Its Text [Cambridge 1992] 193). See also Parker, Codex
Bezae, 183-193 for a fuller discussion and historical survey of the complexities regarding
the relation between the Latin and Greek columns.
In at least one place (Mark 11,21) the Greek Aorist (ἐξήρανθη) translates a Latin
Present (aruit). Formally, however, aruit could be Present or Perfect. However, based on
statistical data Perseus suggest reading aruit here as a Present.
This coincides with Parker’s statement that “assimilation to the Latin was not the
most important factor in the history of the Greek column” (D.C. Parker, “The Translation
of OYN in the Old Latin Gospels”, NTS 31.2  272).