Sunday, August 11, 2013

Matthew 24:7-8.

Continuing the theme of wars and rumors of wars, Jesus adds:
ἐγερθήσεται γὰρ ἔθνος ἐπὶ ἔθνος καὶ βασιλεία ἐπὶ βασιλείαν, καὶ ἔσονται λιμοὶ καὶ λοιμοὶ καὶ σεισμοὶ κατὰ τόπους· πάντα δὲ ταῦτα ἀρχὴ ὠδίνων.

For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and plagues, and earthquakes from place to place, but all of these are only the beginning of sorrows. (Matthew 24:7–8)
An interesting sidelight on these verses is that within two hundred years of this being written the words λιμοὶ and λοιμοὶ were no longer distinguished in pronunciation. Someone listening (and scriptures, indeed all writings at the time, were read aloud) would not be able to distinguish the two. This and the similarity in spelling (there is only one letter difference between the two) explains why manuscripts like Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, and a number of others drop out the explicit mention of plagues. They were all written after the shift in pronunciation. Interestingly, many of the modern editors (such as the Alands and the United Bible Society) have failed to recognize what is going on and have followed the incorrect reading.