Some Problems of the earliest Greek text Papyrus 967 on Daniel

(Koot van Wyk 30 December 2019)


Greek Papyrus 967 on Daniel

The papyrus dates to the year 200 A.D. but is filled with errors and my own experience with the papyrus on Daniel provides the following examples:

Instead of reading with the later Greek Byzantine Septuagint the name Jerusalem as Jerusaleem the Greek Papyrus read it Jerusaluma (Daniel 1:1).

Instead of “unto Babylon” Papyrus 967 read “unto the Babylonian” (Daniel 1:2). The Hebrew is the “land of Shin’âr”.

The Greek Byzantine so-called Septuagint read Abiesdri in 400 A.D. for the original Hebrew Ashpenaz but Greek Papyrus 967 in 200 A.D similarly read Aspanez (Daniel 1:3). Jerome in his commentary on Daniel also referred to this inconsistency in the so-called Septuagint of his day so he chose for the Vulgate in 389 A.D. Aspanez.

Due to haplography [same letters repeated in original led to writing only half of it] a case happened in Greek Papyrus 967 after wisdom ______so that there is an omission in Daniel 1:4 in this 200 A.D. Daniel Greek text.

The “and of the wine” that was given the young men in Daniel 1:5 is omitted in the text of the Greek Papyrus 967.

It is possible that the person who was copying it was not a Greek for the mental lexicon of the scribe of Papyrus 967 could not immediately notice the non-Greek word like in Daniel 1:5 where he is supposed to write basileikês but he wrote baleikês.

The spelling of the original Hebrew Mishael is in Greek Papyrus 967 from 200 A.D. Meisael and in John Wycliffe’s 1384 translation as Myzael. Where did Wycliffe get the /z/ from? Well the Coptic manuscript in the British Library Or. 1314 read Mishael as Mizael.

The name of Daniel in Daniel 1:7 is relevant for the investigation of Belshazzar in Daniel. Daniel’s name in the original Hebrew was given as Beltashazzar and Jerome presented it in 389 in his Latin translation (Vulgate) of Daniel as Baltassar. Papyrus 967 of 200 A.D. read it with a drop in a letter: Baltasar (Uncial Vs dating to 450 A.D. used by Weber in his edition of the Vulgate). Also the so-called Greek Byzantine Septuagint read Baltasar and this error of dropping one letter. In Daniel 5:12 where it is said what the name of Daniel was in Babylonian, Jerome gave a slightly different spelling this time according to: Baltassar. In Daniel 1:7 he read it as

Two Coptic texts, one of 1314 and the other from 1836 read two different ways for the name given to Daniel: British Library Ms. Or. 1314 read in Daniel 1:7 Baldazzar but Henry Tattam in his edition of British Library Ms. Or. 11557A read in 1836 Balazzar. How did Tattam’s Coptic scribe ended with the omission of the /d/? Simple. The /l/ in Coptic and the /d/ is almost identical so that a slip of the eye could be the origin of this misreading. Coptic /l/ is L and /d/ is D. How did the scribe of 1314 end with a /d/ instead of a /t/? Acoustic error or slip of the ear. It sounded like a /d/ when the reader was dictating.

In Daniel 2:22 many letters were left out by the scribe of Greek Papyrus 967.

In Daniel 2:33 the Greek Papyrus 967 had some Semitic letters that were misread shaping the form of the Greek as it stands. The text was probably in Aramaic so that the nouns like iron and feet had an aleph at the end which made the scribe to translate “the iron” and “the feet” whereas the original Hebrew just read “iron” “its feet”. It can be seen in PT16_12r lines 41-44 at the University of Koeln in Germany. Also a further problem is the slip of the eye with Greek ti = which resulting from a double entry of di in Aramaic of which the first letter is misformed to an Aramaic mi but error and correction was copied by scribes in the transmission of the text. Margin correction and in text errors were placed side by side with the correct first and the error second. That is how they appear now in Greek Papyrus 967.

In fact, this error was present in 180 A.D. in the Old Latin text predating Papyrus 967 as one can see in the text by the Old Latin text of churchfather Cyprian cited by Sabbatier in 1743 on page 857 namely that the words autem (not in the Hebrew) and quidem (not in the Hebrew) and again autem (not in the Hebrew) in the same verse is really a misreading of three times the appearance of the di in Aramaic as a misjudged mi in the Vorlage of the Old Latin. This is why the error was Semitic misreadings. Jerome did not change the error but kept it in his Vulgate in 389 A.D. The same repetition of mi (3x). The so-called Greek Byzantine Septuagint Uncials kept these Semitic misreadings plus added the Aramaic definite article added to the nouns iron and feet mentioned supra for the Greek Papyrus 967.

For those who do not know, the large Uncials Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Vaticanus et al, dating to circa 400 A.D. and later were the products of Constantine’s order in 332 A.D., as Churchfather Africanus in a letter to Eusebius informed us, that 50 copies of the Old Testament should be copied “to ensure that they are prepared as quickly as possible” (see the order in De Vita Constantine iv. 36-37). The errors were part of the speed. So next time scholars want to do a project in our times comparing the readings in the Septuagint with the original Hebrew text, they should keep it in mind.

Churchfather Origen in 232 A.D. complained about errors in Daniel that are sometimes in the Greek 200 verses longer (see PG 11:36-37 and 40-41).

Errors in Greek Papyrus 967 are in Daniel 5:6 omission of two words, acoustic misperception, addition.

In Daniel 5:1 the name of Belshazzar of the original Aramaic is given by Greek Papyrus 967 as Baltasar.

In Greek Papyrus 967 in Daniel 5:13 there is an error of a continuation with vv. 16-17 instead of moving towards the end of verse 13 and go to vv. 14-15. This same swerve is also maintained in the so-called Greek Byzantine Septuagint copies circa 400 A.D.

In 5:30 the name of Belshazzar is given by Greek Papyrus 967 as Baltasar. This is in 200 A.D. in 400 A.D. the so-called Byzantine Greek Septuagint also read Baltasar. This was the spelling Jerome had in his Vulgate for Daniel’s Akkadian name. Jerome in 389 A.D. is using Baltassar for the name of Belshazzar. The Middle English translation of John Wycliffe in 1384 read it as Balthasar. The translations of the Spanish by Cassiodoro de Reina in 1569; the Portuguese of Joâo Ferreira de Almeida and the German of Martin Luther in 1540 all read it the same as the original Aramaic. Thus, Belshazzar. John Calvin in 1561got it wrong though: Beltsazar.

The Coptic of 1314 gives it as Baldasar and the other Coptic of Tattam in 1836 as Baldasar.

Which king was given the reign of Belshazzar after his death?

Jerome said in his commentary:

Pro Dario LXX Artaxercen interpretati sunt

For Darius the Septuagint interpreted Artaxerxus

Jerome's Commentary DanielreconORIGENES-HEXAPLA=FIELD1875:920).

We now know that the information by Jerome is not correct. Jerome consulted the Septuagint in 386 CE and thus his dependency was on manuscripts that came from Pamphilus and Origen that in turn was based on manuscripts like Papyrus 967. Jerome did consult a Greek text that was coined by the church to be the Septuagint and certainly must have been done around 332 CE when Constantine ordered churchfather Eusebius to make speedy fifty copies of the Septuagint. The variety of forms in codex Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus and Vaticanus is evidence that there was no certainty as to what the exact form was or was supposed to be. The similarity between codex Alexandrinus and Papyrus 967 in Daniel only illustrate the problems the early church experienced in the bookmaking business and copying processes. Later copies from or with manuscripts similar as the character of Papyrus 967 became the norm for the authentic considered codices of Greek. However, that in no way guarantee, and in fact we dispute this possibility, that it is an exact replica of the original Septuagint.

In Daniel 5:31 in Greek Papyrus 967 in 200 CE the onomasticon that is used in the place of Darius is not Artaxerxes as we find it later in the codex Alexandrinus but Xerxes. The interesting part of the entry in the Papyrus is that the scribe has underlined it as Xerxes thus indicating that something was wrong or that he is aware that something is wrong. The uncertainty between the exact form of the onomasticon between codex Alexandrinus and Papyrus 967 and the fact that it was underlined in Papyrus 967 are sufficient evidence to conclude that neither forms were correct and that the Masoretic Text contains the true form, namely, Darius.