A Fun Dabbling of Textual Criticism

As I’ve been reading some of Chrysostom’s commentary on the Psalms, I had wondered how long it would take me to notice a difference between his text of the Psalms and mine. It’s quite funny that it took me this long to find one, because there is one right at the beginning of the work! Chrysostom is great for this kind of thing because he loves to make rather detailed points about the text. He’s fond of saying things like, “The prophet didn’t say this (insert slight difference), but this.” The change in the text with Rahlfs is very minor, but it would break his argument at this point (or hinder this particular point any way).

The text in question is the fourth Psalm. Here’s Rahlf’s text:

Εν τῷ ἐπικαλεῖσθαί με εἰσήκουσέν μου ὁ θεὸς τῆς δικαιοσύνης μου

And here’s Chrysostom:

Εν τῷ ἐπικαλεῖσθαί με εἰσήκουσέ με ὁ Θεὸς τῆς δικαιοσύνης μου

Can you spot the difference? It’s very slight, it occurs in the word following εισηκουσεν:

Εν τῷ ἐπικαλεῖσθαί με εἰσήκουσέν μου ὁ θεὸς τῆς δικαιοσύνης μου (Rahlfs)
Εν τῷ ἐπικαλεῖσθαί με εἰσήκουσέ με ὁ Θεὸς τῆς δικαιοσύνης μου (Chrysostom)

Why is this important? Well Chrysostom goes on to make this point:

Πρὸς γοῦν τοὺς ἐν πονηρίᾳ μὲν ζῶντας, προσδοκῶντας δὲ τῷ μήκει τῶν
ῥημάτων δυσωπεῖν αὐτὸν, ὅρα τί φησιν. Ὅταν πληθύνητε τὴν δέησιν, οὐκ εἰσακούσομαι
ὑμῶν. Ἐὰν ἐκτείνητε τὰς χεῖρας, ἀποστρέψω τοὺς ὀφθαλμούς μου ἀφ’ ὑμῶν. Ἄρα πρὸ
τῶν ἄλλων ἁπάντων παῤῥησίαν δεῖ τὸν εὐχόμενον ἔχειν, καὶ πάντως ἕψεται τὰ τῆς
αἰτήσεως. ∆ιά τοι τοῦτο καὶ ὁ Προφήτης οὐκ εἶπεν, Εἰσήκουσεν ἐμοῦ, ἀλλὰ, Τῆς
δικαιοσύνης μου
, τὴν πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν αὐτοῦ παῤῥησίαν δεικνὺς, καὶ ὡς μετὰ ταύτης
αὐτῷ προσῄει διὰ παντός.

And a rather rough translation.

To those that live in evil, who give to Him lofty words, see what is written: Whenever you utter your request, I will not hear you. If you stretch out your hands, I will turn my eyes from you. Before all others your prayer must have boldness, so by all means follow the boldness of this prayer. Because of this the prophet didn’t say, “He heard me,” but “He heard my righteousness.” Having shown God this righteousness, he prayed through all things.

I’m not so sure about the “So before others…” line, so for the Greekers out there please double check that one for me.

First, the difference between the readings. As I understand it, Rahlfs reading would be translated like this:

In my cry to him, God, who is my righteousness, heard me.

Chrysostom’s would go like this:
In my cry to him, God heard my righteousness.

I don’t have easy access to a textual apparatus, though I could find no mention of the variant in Swete’s apparatus (which is online at archive.org). Swete’s LXX followed Chrysostom’s text on this one though.

So what is Chrysostom up to here? As always, he’s extremely concerned with the moral character of his congregation. In teaching them to pray, he is goes out of his way to point out that one prays through good works. The opposite is true too. Sin blocks prayer, and he trots out the famous passage from Isaiah where God castigates Israel for observing religious ceremonies while failing to do justice. Thus, he naturally points out that God hears our actions just as loud as our words. The argument is summed up nicely in a short sentence early in the homily:

Οὐ γὰρ δὴ ῥημάτων πλῆθος πείθειν τὸν Θεὸν εἴωθεν, ἀλλὰ καθαρὰ ψυχὴ καὶ ἔργων ἀγαθῶν ἐπίδειξις.

For it is not the fullness of words that convinces God, but a pure soul and the demonstration of good works. (again, not sure about ειωθεν).

Textual Criticism is normally of no interest to me, but I found this little bit interesting ;-).