Saturday, November 16, 2019

A Closer Look at Papyrus 46 and Ephesians 3:9

The conversation continues on Ephesians 3:9...

In the comment thread for the WM 138 post, CC shared another striking observation:

"Take another look at P46 in the NTVMR. It seems to me that it only reads κονομια. A case could be made that the exemplar had κοινονια (ο rather than ω) and the ι got squished into the Ν and the second Ν became μ. The transcription includes the οι in red brackets, but those letters aren't actually on the page...."

And, indeed, when I took a look at p46 the evidence in favor of the MCT is not as clear as it first seems. Here is a larger picture of the section in question:

Here's a closeup of the section at the end of a line (underlined in blue) reading (παντας τις η):

And here is a closeup of the beginning of the next line (underlined in red) which apparently reads κονομια not οικονομια:

This closer look reveals that p46, the earliest ms. of Ephesians 3:9, is, at the least, not a clear  witness to the οικονομια reading. Textual scholars will suggest the possibility that the οι- was either omitted by error or that it was there and the ink has rubbed away.  CC suggests an alternative possibility, "that the exemplar had κοινονια (ο rather than ω)." This would, in fact, argue in favor of the TR reading of κοινωνια.


Note: Post updated 11/17/19.


Matthew M.Rose said...

Hi Dr. Riddle,

Considering that the margins in P46 are pretty uniform, and there is no tapering of the margin at the bottom of any page--unless of course they're worn out with age. It appears that the "οι" has disappeared due to wear and tear. There's no reason that the scribe would have cut that particular line so short.

P46 probably read:" παντας τις η οι
κονομια..." and the "οι" simply wore away.

That said, I think we have stumbled upon the cause of this rare reading i.e."κοινωνία". If a ms. like P46 was used as an exemplar ("οι" on the end of one line and the remainder of the word "κονομια" starting the following line) it could very easily account for the mix up between the two words. Manuscripts often stop a line in the middle of a word (and P46 is no exception) to keep the line length and margin uniform. This practice could cause a later copyist much trouble when glancing back and forth between their exemplar and the medium they're inscribing.

thinking-biblically said...

There is a better image at;q1=6238;size=20;c=apis;subview=detail;resnum=43;view=entry;lastview=thumbnail;cc=apis;entryid=x-3602;viewid=6238_150.TIF You are correct, there is no sign of the "OI". But it definitely reads "KONOMIA", not "KOINONIA".

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


Thanks for the post.

I'm not enough of an expert on p46 to agree that the margins are uniform throughout. Even on this page there seem to be some slight variations.

The key word in your reconstruction is "probably." Maybe that should be scaled back to "possibly." At any rate, it can't be said for certain, right?

The same goes for the speculation on the origins of the κοινωνία reading. CC has a different suggestion from yours. This illustrates to me the limits of the reconstruction method.


Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


Thanks for your comment. Yes, that is a much better image. Maybe I'll update the post at some time with better images. I'm not disputing the current reading here is κονομια but the point is that it is not οικονομια and that may be significant.


James Snapp Jr said...

Why -- other than an irrational desire to squint evidence for the TR's reading into existence when it is not there -- would anyone maintain any interpretation of this that did not say, in one way or another, that OI was at the end of the line that precedes KONOMIA?

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Hi James,

And yet, it is not there...


Matthew M.Rose said...

JTR writes; "And yet, it is not there..."

~~Nor is the first iota (ι), the lone omega (ω), or the second nu (Ν).~~

Dr. Riddle,

On what authority can one uphold this reading (κοινωνία)? I'm trying to understand the reasoning behind why you could ever think it's authentic. It has very little evidence on it's side and at least one edition of the TR attest to the reading which is backed by the testimony of Universal Antiquity. Why not follow that (οικονομία) reading instead? -MMR

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


Thanks for your comment.

Please re-read the post. I wrote: "This closer look reveals that p46, the earliest ms. of Ephesians 3:9, is, at the least, not a clear witness to the οικονομια reading."

CC was not saying that p46 reads κοινωνία here. It is κονομία. If I understand him correctly his question was about whether the *exemplar* of p46 might have read κοινονια, a form of κοινωνία, and it got written as κονομία here. I do not think he was dogmatically saying this was the case but just raising the possibility. If this were the case it would support the TR reading at Eph 3:9.

Again, my point is to say that p46 is not (for whatever reason) a clear witness for οικονομια. Therefore, it takes the number of extant pre-800 witnesses down from six to five and means there are no clear papyri witnesses for Eph 3:9, and it makes the earliest clear witness to the οικονομια reading a fourth century uncial. I think these are facts upon which all can agree.

I am less interested in the minutia of papyri studies and will gladly admit I am no expert in this area. I am more interested in how this demonstrates the weaknesses of the reconstruction method.


Matthew M.Rose said...


Thanks for the reply! you *not* consider the reading κοινωνία in Eph.3:9 to be authentic? Because if you *do* you have just side stepped some pertinent questions for the purpose of reiterating things that are not relevant to my inquiry. If you're not sure about this variant, or if you do have a position on it, I'd like to know what it is and why(?).

JTR writes; "I am more interested in how this demonstrates the weaknesses of the reconstruction method."

~~In what specific way(s) does this information and/or variant unit demonstrate a weakness in the reconstruction method?~~

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...


I uphold the TR at Eph 3:9, which means I affirm κοινωνία as the original.

I have written and spoken extensively about my views on the TR, my views on providential preservation as a confessional RB, and the weaknesses of the reconstruction method. This example shows the weaknesses, because the empirical evidence is not extensive, definitive, or complete. In fact, this is also essentially the view of contemporary mainstream academic text criticism which has abandoned the search for the autograph in favor of the "initial text."

For more of my thoughts on this I'd direct you to my WM podcasts and to the recent lectures I did at the Text and Canon Conference (search to find these).

Best, JTR

CC said...

Are you able to translate Beza's comment on this? He said: Communio, η κοινωνία. Vulg. Dispensatio, οικονομία & ita etiam veteres nostri libri scriptum habent, vt Syrus interp. legit.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

I was busy this afternoon but sent your comment to a friend and he offered this translation:

"The communion" (mutual participation) ἡ κοινωνία. The Vulgate [reads] "the stewardship"(dispensation) οικονομία, and so also our older documents have [the reading], as the Syriac translation reads.

I took some paraphrastic liberties (with the "ita ... ut" construction), but hopefully this helps.

CC said...


Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Some questions about the Beza note:

1. What did he mean by veteres nostri libri? Lit: "our old books." Greek mss? Printed editions?

2. Syrus=Syriac? If so, this will send us to the Syriac to see if it is there. Peshitta? Curetonian? Harklean?

If there it would invalidate Metzger/PIA's claim it is not in any of the early versions.