Homoioteleuton is one of the many daunting words of textual criticism. Fortunately, the word’s meaning is less daunting than its form. Greek for “like ending,” it simply refers to a scribe skipping over a line (or more) while copying a manuscript, due to similar line endings. I found an example this morning while working on the Origen manuscript: in my own transcription!
As I was reading back over my transcription, I came upon the following lines
μήποτε γὰρ κ’ἄν ἐξωβάλλει
ἀλλὰ εἶδός τι αὐτοῦ.
Something seemed amiss, (ἐξωβάλλει belongs in the subjunctive, for one) so I opened up the PDF of manuscript to the corresponding page. Sure enough, I had made an error:
The three lines read,
.. θεόν, μήποτε γὰρ, κ’ἄν ἐξωβάλλῃ
τὸν φόβον, οὐχὶ ὅλον αὐτὸν ἐκβάλλει,
ἀλλὰ εἶδός τι αὐτοῦ. οἶδα γὰρ καὶ…
“[the question is] whether, when [love] casts
out fear, it does not cast it out entirely,
but only one form of it. For I know that…”
[brackets merely provide context]
Sure enough, what I had as ἐξωβάλλει was actually in the subjunctive: ἐξωβάλλῃ. Because the first two lines end in similar fashion (ἐξωβάλλῃ/ἐκβάλλει), it looks like I conflated the two readings to produce ἐξωβάλλει, and cut the intervening line. The result didn’t make very much sense, and as a result I caught the error when reading over it.
This was a humble reminder to me that I’m just as susceptible to all the various “scribal phenomena” as those who wrote the manuscripts I’m reading! Textual work, then, as now, requires a careful hand and a careful eye if we’re to minimize errors like this one.