Ephesians to Ephesus?
Following up on a previous post, I am going to write briefly here about the issue of the destination of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians. Hopefully this will be a decent introduction to those of you who are not familiar with the issue. For those who have access to commentaries and academic books, I found the discussions in the commentaries of Best, Foulkes, and Lincoln to all be pretty good. Bruce’s discussion was not as good. Also the discussion in Metzger’s Textual Commentary was sufficient for its point, but not as full as the commentaries’ discussion. The NET Bible’s study note on this is concise but very good. But for those who do not have these things, or for those who do and like looking at pictures, here you go...
Some of our early manuscripts do not have the destination εν Εφεσω in the text of this epistle. This is particularly odd because not having the destination makes the text really uncomfortable grammatically. So what kind of manuscripts lack this? Unfortunately for Ephesus, it is some of our earliest and best. Here it is in Sinaiticus, a 4th century uncial manuscript :
There you have your text, Παυλος αποστολος Ιησου χριστου δια θεληματος θεου τοις αγιοις πασιν τοις ουσι και πιστοις εν χριστω ιησου χαρισ υ..., which in English gets you to the "grace to you..." of verse 2. Note the small word to the right of line three, the πασιν. It has a straight horizontal bar above the iota. That’s a shorthand for the letter nu which frequently occurs at the end of a line, but occasionally in the middle. That’s why you read πασιν here and not πασι. Note the tilde in the middle of the fourth line. That is not a nu, even though ουσιν often ends with the nu (this is ye old movable nu; all you Greek geeks will be quite familiar with that). Note it is not a straight horizontal line. That is a marker for the corrector of Sinaiticus. Look to the left of line 4 (and note it has the matching tilde) and you will see what the corrector thought should be be inserted: εν εφεσω, "in Ephesus". So as it was originally copied, Sinaiticus did not have the εν εφεσω. Of course an omission like this often means (and in this case almost certainly does mean) that not only did Sinaiticus not have it, but the manuscript it was copied from did not either. How about Vaticanus?
That is a picture of the pseudofacsimile of Vaticanus. You can see in the original (big letters) that there is no εν εφεσω, but it is written on the right.
Since I don’t want to be accused of being unfair to poor Ephesus, here is Alexandrinus, a 5th century uncial which does include εν εφεσω (it starts the 10th letter of line 3):
In my estimation the epistle was probably a cyclical letter, meant to be send to a number of different churches in different cities. But the evidence is hardly clear. I think the allusions to Ephesians 1 in Ignatius’ epistle to the same do have an interesting impact on how we view the destination of this epistle. It is quite possible that Ignatius thought it was to Ephesus. Am I just seeing an allusion where no one else sees one? In the commentaries I reference, I saw no discussion of this. Have you any thoughts on this, dear reader?
All images are courtesy of CSNTM