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Vaticanus Distigme-obelos Symbols Marking Added Text, Including 1 Corinthians 14.34–5

  • Philip B. Payne (a1)

The two-dot-plus-bar ‘distigme-obelos’ symbols in Vaticanus signal added text. Five characteristic features distinguish their obeloi from paragraphoi. Like scribe B's LXX obeloi, all eight distigme-obelos symbols mark the location of added text. A gap at the exact location of a widely recognised, multi-word addition follows every distigme-obelos except one with distinctive downward dipping strokes. The Vaticanus Gospels are so early that they have virtually no high stops, a feature older than even 75. Consequently, they contain none of these additions, but the Vaticanus epistles have high stops throughout and contain their one distigme-obelos-marked addition, 1 Cor 14.34–5. Contemporaneous LXX G has corresponding distigmai.

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1 D. Parker, H. Houghton, T. Wasserman, M. Holmes, T. Brown, P. Canart, P. Andrist, P. Payne and classicist A. Kelly chose this name (plural, distigmai). For their reasons, see Payne P. and Canart P., ‘Distigmai Matching the Original Ink of Codex Vaticanus: Do They Mark the Location of Textual Variants?’, Le manuscrit B de la Bible (Vaticanus graecus 1209): Introduction au fac-similé, Actes du Colloque de Genève (11 juin 2001), Contributions supplémentaires (ed. Andrist P.; Lausanne: Éditions du Zèbre, 2009) 199–226, at 199–200. The current article uses this now-conventional name and the corresponding Greek forms ‘obelos’, ‘obeloi’ and ‘distigme-obelos’ to be consistent with recent scholarly literature about these Vaticanus symbols.

2 See below, pp. 620–1.

3 Milne H. and Skeat T., Scribes and Correctors of the Codex Sinaiticus (London: British Museum, 1938) 8790 ; Skeat T., ‘The Codex Sinaiticus, the Codex Vaticanus, and Constantine’, JTS NS 50 (1999) 583625, at 604; P. Canart, ‘Le Vaticanus graecus 1209: notice paléographique et codicologique’, Le manuscrit B, 19–43, at 25.

4 As concluded by Gravely E., ‘The Relationship of the Vaticanus Umlauts to Family 1’, Digging for the Truth: Collected Essays Regarding the Byzantine Text of the Greek New Testament: A Festschrift in Honor of Maurice A. Robinson (ed. Billington M. and Streitenberger P.; Norden, Germany: FYM, 2014) 5472, at 54 and Wasserman T., The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission (CBNTS 43; Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 2006) 239 .

5 Payne and Canart, ‘Distigmai’, 209–10 identify two chi-square test results, both showing that the probability of such a high correlation between original-ink-colour distigmai and NA28 textual variants occurring in random distribution is far less than 1 in 10,000.

6 Payne and Canart, ‘Distigmai’, 203–9, 214–15 identify protruding ink at 1469 A3 and 1501 B42. In both cases NA28 cites a variant. Original-ink-colour distigmai occur by each of the six columns in roughly even distribution: respectively, eight, nine, seven, seven, nine, eleven. Consequently, they defy any explanation of their distinctive apricot colour based on their position on the page.

7 Including W. Willker, ‘Codex Vaticanus Graece 1209, B/03: The Umlauts’,; Miller J., ‘Some Observations on the Text-Critical Function of the Umlauts in Vaticanus, with Special Attention to 1 Corinthians 14.34–35’, JSNT 26 (2003) 217–36; Epp E., Junia: The First Woman Apostle (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005) 1819 ; Wasserman, Jude, 239; Amphoux C., ‘Codex Vaticanus B: les points diacritiques des marges de Marc’, JTS NS 58 (2007) 440–66, at 447; P. Andrist, ‘Le milieu de production du Vaticanus graecus 1209 et son histoire postérieure: le canon d'Eusèbe, les listes du IVe siècle des livres canoniques, les distigmai et les manuscrits connexes’, Le manuscrit B, 227–56, at 240–52; Canart, ‘Vaticanus graecus 1209’, 42; A. Lavrinoviča, ‘1.Kor.14:34,35 – Interpolācija?’ (Master's Thesis, University of Latvia, 2012) 69–70; Forte A., ‘Observations on the 28th Revised Edition of Nestle–Aland's Novum Testamentum Graece’, Biblica 94 (2013) 268–92, at 289–91; Shack J., ‘A Text Without 1 Corinthians 14.34–35? Not According to the Manuscript Evidence’, JGRChJ 10 (2014) 90112, at 102 n. 45; and Gravely, ‘Vaticanus Umlauts’, 54.

8 All but numbers 4, 35, 42 and 51 in Payne and Canart, ‘Distigmai’, 204–9. Swanson R., New Testament Greek Manuscripts, Variant Readings Arranged in Horizontal Lines against Codex Vaticanus: 1 Corinthians (Wheaton, IL/Pasadena, CA: Tyndale House/William Carey, 2003) 125, 178, 211 and 257 lists variants for numbers 46, 47, 48 and 49 at 1 Cor 9.6–7; 11.28; 14.3; and 15.34.

9 E.g. Pisano S., ‘The Text of the New Testament’, Bibliorum Sacrorum Graecorum Codex Vaticanus B: Prolegomena (Rome: Istituto Poligrafico e Zecca dello Stato, 1999) 2741, at 40.

10 Explanatio signorum, quae in Septuaginta (ed. Rahlfs A.; Stuttgart: Württembergische Bibelanstalt, 1935).

11 Similarly, the distigme at G 219 B8 marks inline-graphic

as an addition to both the standard LXX text and the MT. If the two dots were joined, the resulting line would be far shorter than any G obelos. G 273 A12's distigme marks text replacing the MT. G 144 A28 and 229 A15's distigmai function as obeloi.

12 D. Parker, ‘Through a Screen Darkly: Digital Texts and the New Testament’, JSNT (2003) 395–411, at 408 n. 17. Niccum C., ‘The Voice of the Manuscripts on the Silence of Women: The External Evidence for 1 Cor 14.34–5’, NTS 43 (1997) 242–55, at 245, n. 20. Payne P. and Canart P., ‘The Originality of Text-critical Symbols in Codex Vaticanus’, NovT 42 (2000) 105–13, at 109 n. 25 and Payne P., Man and Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Paul's Letters (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009) 235–7 rebut Niccum's arguments.

13 Gravely, ‘Vaticanus Umlauts’, 54–5 regarding P. Head, ‘The Marginalia of Codex Vaticanus: Putting the Distigmai in their Place’, presented to the SBL New Testament Textual Criticism Seminar, New Orleans, 2009. Cf. E. Gravely, ‘The Text Critical Sigla in Codex Vaticanus’ (PhD diss., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009) 81–9,, gives a detailed critique of Head's argument.

14 Payne and Canart, ‘Distigmai’, 214–15, with a magnified photograph, Plate 8b.

15 Daniel Buck suggests this, noting that both omit Deut 9.22's inline-graphic

τον θεον υμων
at Both are biblical manuscripts of similar date with hexaplaric content and extensive text in double columns (all 306 surviving G pages and Vaticanus 625–893) on vellum by skilled calligraphers using similar letter-forms. Scholars identify Alexandria as the provenance of both G and Vaticanus. They share similar use of distigmai, bar-shaped and ÷ shaped obeloi, asterisks, diplai, nomina sacra and spelling (inline-graphic
for inline-graphic

16 Andrist, ‘Le milieu’, 242; Plate 4b shows both asterisks and obeloi. J. Ziegler, ed., Isaias (Septuaginta: Vetus Testamentum Graecum auctoritate Academiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum 14; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 19833) 38–41 identifies B and V as the main group of hexaplaric witnesses for Isaiah.

17 117 bar-shaped obeloi (Isaiah has ninety-two, Jeremiah nine, Zechariah eleven, Malachi five), 4 ÷ shaped obeloi in Isaiah, 6 asterisks each in Zechariah and Isaiah.

18 The ÷ shaped obelos occurs by 1012 C9, 1014 C15 and 1016 C12 (twice).

19 Ziegler, Isaias, 56 incorrectly writes that there are no obeloi in the text.

20 At Isa 51.23; 54.17; 60.14 and abbreviated inline-graphic

ου κʹ πʹ εβρʹ
at Isa 36.22; Zech 8.2. Cf. Ziegler, Isaias, 56. Peter Gentry's 6 June 2015 email to the author identifies inline-graphic
as the perfect medio-passive of inline-graphic
. The OdysseaUBSU Greek font used throughout this article is available from

21 4 June 2015 email to the author, ‘Dans tous les endroits indiqués, l'encre, pâle, me semble la même que celle des passages non repassée.’

22 Respectively, Zech 1.19, ‘my Lord’; Isa 35.9, ‘and gathered’; Isa 46.1, ‘exhausted, hungry’; Jer 8.7, ‘wild’; and Jer 8.21, ‘as of a woman in travail’.

23 Canart, 20 October 2015 email to the author, ‘l'encre, très pâle, pourrait être celle de l'original’.

24 Turner E., Greek Manuscripts of the Ancient World (London: University of London Institute of Classical Studies, 1987 2) 38 , ‘obelos … to indicate spurious text’; Gardthausen V., Griechische Paleographie, vol. ii: Die Schrift, Unterschriften und Chronologie im Altertum und im byzantinischen Mittelalter (2 vols.; Leipzig: Veit, 1911–132) ii.413–14, ‘zur Tilgung von Worten und Buchstaben … Athetesen, durch einen Obelus’, cites ‘Diogenes Laert. 3,65–66, inline-graphic

ὀβελὸς πρὸς τὴν ἀθέτησιν’;
Parker D., An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and their Texts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008) 192 explains the obelos as ‘a symbol indicating a measure of uncertainty … Nestle–Aland … double square brackets around the text serve the same function … (German text p. 7*; English text, p. 50*): they “indicate that the enclosed words, generally of some length, are known not to be part of the original [ursprunglichen] text.”’ de Lange N., ‘The Letter to Africanus: Origen's Recantation?’, Papers Presented to the Seventh International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 1975, Part ii (ed. Livingstone E.; StPatr 16; TU 129; Berlin: Academie-Verlag, 1985) 242–7, at 246, ‘spurious’; Schironi F., ‘The Ambiguity of Signs: Critical ΣΗΜΕΙΑ from Zenodotus to Origen’, Homer and the Bible in the Eyes of Ancient Interpreters (ed. Niehoff M.; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2012) 87112 , esp. 89, 95, 103, 108, ‘athetesis’, ‘spurious’, ‘addition’. LSJ p. 1196 s.v. inline-graphic
ii ‘a critical mark to point out that a passage was spurious’, p. 31 s.v. inline-graphic
ii ‘Gramm., reject as spurious’.

25 Reynolds L. D. and Wilson N. G., Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013 4) 11 .

26 Schironi, ‘Ambiguity’, 103.

27 ‘The margin’ is at the far-left edge of letters on the margin, excluding inline-graphic and inline-graphic whose vertical stroke is at the margin, and inline-graphic, which straddles the margin. The VaticanusLSU font is available from

28 Excluding the bar at 1470 B2 since it is noticeably lower than all the other eight paragraphoi on 1470–1; it does not match the surrounding text's ink colour or stroke thickness, but rather the colour, graininess and stroke thickness of the ink of the adjacent, later, marginal addition; and, unlike every other paragraphos bar in 1 Corinthians, it does not underscore the first letter of its line. Contrast the paragraphos five lines later, at 1470 B7, that crosses a inline-graphic descender, just as paragraphoi cross the descender of all eight adjacent inline-graphic (1242B, 1259C, 1260C, 1262B, 1264B, 1271C, 1273A, B) and all twelve adjacent inline-graphic (1239C, 1246 B, C, 1247A, 1249B, 1256B, 1257A, 1262A, 1270A, 1272A, 1273C, 1274B) in Matthew.

29 NA28, 49*.

30 ‘Or she’ reflects Eusebius’ record of the employment of ‘girls skilled in penmanship inline-graphic

(κόραις ἐπὶ τὸ καλλιγραφεῖν ἠσκημέναις)’
in Origen's scriptorium at Caesarea, Eusebius, Hist. eccl. 6.32.2 (trans. J. Oulton, LCL, 1957) II.68–69. Similarly, Gerontius, Life of Melania 26 praises the calligraphic copying inline-graphic
of Melania the Younger. Doerpfeld W. and Hepding H., Die Arbeiten zu Pergamon 1908–1909, vol. ii: Die Inschriften, Mitteilungen des kaiserlich deutschen archäologischen Instituts, Athenische Abteilung 35 (1910) no. 20 identifies an inscription in Pergamum of a girl who wins a contest in inline-graphic
For more evidence, see Haines-Eitzen K., The Gendered Palimpsest: Women, Writing, and Representation in Early Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) 29–31 and 41–52.

31 Ehrman B., The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011 2) 33 . Cf., similarly, Colwell E., ‘The Origin of Texttypes of New Testament Manuscripts’, Early Christian Origins: Studies in Honor of Harold R. Willoughby (ed. Wikgren A.; Chicago: Quadrangle, 1961) 128–38, at 138 and Aland B., ‘Die Münsteraner Arbeit am Text des Neuen Testaments und ihr Beitrag für die frühe Überlieferung des 2. Jahrhunderts: Eine methodologische Betrachtung’, Gospel Traditions in the Second Century: Origins, Recensions, Text, and Transmission (ed. Petersen W.; Notre Dame/London: University of Notre Dame, 1989) 5570, at 65, ‘Fast alle Varianten, die in den Papyri vorkommen, waren vorher schon aus späteren Handschriften bekannt.’

32 Eight have no gap: 1342 C, 1345 B, 1361 A, 1401 B, 1442 C, 1504 B, 1505 B26, 1505 B33. Nine have a mid-line gap: 1237 B, 1268 A, 1280 C, 1301 B, 1365 A, 1403 A, 1428 C, 1470 A, 1500 C. Three have a line-ending gap: 1262 C, 1403 B, 1460 B.

33 Namely gaps 0.32 cm or longer in 228 of the 5343 Vaticanus lines in Matthew.

34 Metzger B. and Ehrman B., The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005 4) 86–7 conclude that ƒ1 text is early: ‘Textual analysis of the Gospel according to Mark indicates that the type of text preserved in [ƒ1 …] appears to go back to the type current in Caesarea in the third and fourth centuries.’

35 Payne and Canart, ‘Distigmai’, 203–5 and 223–5. P. Payne, ‘Fuldensis, Sigla for Variants in Vaticanus, and 1 Cor 14.34–5’, NTS 41 (1995) 240–62, at 253 incorrectly omitted it because in the only colour facsimile available to him then, Novum Testamentum e Codice Vaticano Graeco 1209 (Codex B) tertia vice phototypice expressum (Vatican: Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana, 1968) 98 , it is red, not the original apricot colour.

36 H. Swete, ‘Septuagint’, ISBE (1915) iv.2726.

37 Parker, Introduction, 272, 276. ‘Gloss’, however, avoids misunderstanding since some writers define ‘interpolation’ as deliberate polishing of the body text, but a ‘gloss’ as text written in the margin and later inserted into the text by copyists, as seems more likely here.

38 E.g. the wide range of manuscripts that represent variants marked by distigmai matching the colour of the original ink of Vaticanus that are listed in Payne and Canart, ‘Distigmai’, 204–8 and 214–15.

39 Aland K. and Aland B., The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism (trans. Rhodes E.; Leiden/Grand Rapids: Brill/Eerdmans, 1989 2) 276 ; Metzger and Ehrman, The Text, 300, ‘Perhaps the most basic criterion for the evaluation of variant readings is the simple maxim, “choose the reading that best explains the origin of the others”.’

40 The different endings of Romans best explain the different locations of its doxology: at 16.25–7, after 14.23 and after 15.33, as argued by Parker, Introduction, 270, 272, ‘there is compelling evidence that fourteen and fifteen chapter forms existed … the Doxology is evidently a concluding formula’, Gamble H.Jr., The Textual History of the Letter to the Romans: A Study in Textual and Literary Criticism (SD 42; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977) and, particularly insightful, Hurtado L., ‘The Doxology at the End of Romans’, New Testament Textual Criticism: Its Significance for Exegesis. Essays in Honour of Bruce M. Metzger (ed. Epp E. and Fee G.; Oxford: Clarendon, 1981) 185–99.

41 J. J. Kloha, ‘A Textual Commentary on Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians’ (PhD diss., The University of Leeds, 2006) 549.

42 Schmid U., ‘Conceptualizing “Scribal” Performances: Reader's Notes’, The Textual History of the Greek New Testament: Changing Views in Contemporary Research (ed. Wachtel K. and Holmes M.; Atlanta: SBL, 2011) 4964, at 58, ‘The inclination of scribes, at least in the view of the ancients, seems to have been toward the inclusion of marginal material into the main text.’

43 Each of these seventeen is in NA28’s body text and in inline-graphic

according to NA28.

44 As argued by Fee G., The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987) 699708 and God's Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994) 272–81.

45 Gal 6.11; 2 Thess 3.17, pace E. Ellis, ‘The Silenced Wives of Corinth (i Cor. 14,34–5)’, Essays in Honour of Bruce M. Metzger, 213–20, at 219.

46 Payne, Woman, 226–67, cites fifty-five textual studies arguing this and analyzes seven external and nine internal evidences these verses are a later addition.

47 Fitzmyer J., First Corinthians (AB; New Haven: Yale, 2008) 530 , citing twenty scholars, including, Cope, Delling, Fuller, Keck and Roetzel.

48 Haines-Eitzen, Palimpsest, 62.

49 The addition of inline-graphic

is before the high stop, so precedes this gap, is not a multi-word addition, is not listed in NA28, and is apparently in no Greek manuscript before the ninth century. Furthermore, since its earliest occurrences are in ‘Western’ texts, it is doubtful that any scribe would have noted the addition of inline-graphic
but not the far more obvious and noteworthy transposition of vv. 34–5.

50 The gap in the preceding line after inline-graphic

is the result of the normal pattern throughout all thirty-six Vaticanus occurrences of the word inline-graphic
in Romans–2 Corinthians of only breaking either after inline-graphic
(nine times, Rom 16.1; 1 Cor 1.2; 11.18; 14.5, 12, 33, 34; 2 Cor 8.1, 18) or after inline-graphic
(six times, 1 Cor 11.16; 16.1; 2 Cor 8.19, 24; 11.28; 12.13), not anywhere else in the word. The breaks after inline-graphic
in 1 Cor 14.5 (1473 A17) and 2 Cor 8.1 (1482 C14) leave a similar gap to that at 1 Cor 14.33 (1474 A19). Similar gaps are required in order to keep inline-graphic
together on one line at 1 Cor 7.17 (1466 C22); 12.28 (1472 B2); and 14.35 (1474 A31).

51 This does not imply that these are the only theologically important variants or that they follow a particular thread theologically.

52 Niccum, ‘Voice’, 244–5.

53 Niccum, ‘Voice’, 244–5; Miller, ‘Observations’, 217–24.

54 Shack, ‘A Text’, 102.

55 For example, 1463 B9, 1477 A6, 1483 C9, 1498 C22, 1516 A9.

56 Matt 13.51; 18.11 (NA28 only); Luke 14.24/25; Acts 2.47, the last two with old section numbers.

57 Lavrinoviča, ‘1.Kor.14:34.35’, 38–64.

58 See above, pp. 610–11.

59 See above, pp. 612–18 and below, pp. 621–3.

60 By the author's count NA28’s apparatus contains only 168 multi-word variants in Matthew. Compared to the 5,343 Vaticanus lines in Matthew, this is fewer than one in 31.8 Vaticanus lines. Matthew is probably at the high end of how frequently multi-word variants occur because NA28, 792–9, lists more papyri of Matthew (twenty-four) than of any other NT book except John (thirty). Furthermore, variant readings due to harmonisation, which are often multi-word, are more frequent in the synoptic Gospels than any other part of the NT. Accordingly, five of the eight multi-word variants marked by distigme-obelos symbols are in the synoptic Gospels, two are from Matthew, and three are inter-synoptic harmonisations.

61 The two are Mark 14.70 (1301 B) and Acts 14.18 (1403 B). Both bars are short, only about 3 mm long, and neither extends much into the margin.

63 There are 694 letters in the 42 lines of Vaticanus 1236 column A, Matthew's first column of narrative text, an average of 16.5 letters per line.

64 See above, pp. 615–18.

65 Aland and Aland, The Text, 287.

66 P. Canart's 10 June 2013 email to the author states that he knows of no publication of this apparently original observation. Tischendorf C., ed., Novum Testamentum Vaticanum post Angeli Maii aliorumque imperfectos labores ex ipso codice (Leipzig: Giesecke et Devrient, 1867) xx–xxi notes that punctuation is much more frequent in the letters than in the Gospels but does not comment on its significance.

67 10 June 2013 email to the author.

68 Martini C., Il problema della recensionalità del codice B alla luce del papiro Bodmer xiv (AnBib 26; Rome: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1966) argues this in detail.

69 Metzger and Ehrman, The Text, 41.

70 Aland and Aland, The Text, 287.

71 Metzger B., ‘Recent Developments in the Textual Criticism of the New Testament’, Historical and Literary Studies: Pagan, Jewish, and Christian (NTTS 8; Leiden/Grand Rapids: Brill/Eerdmans, 1968) 145–62, at 157–8, building on Martini, Bodmer xiv , 181–3.

72 Pisano, ‘The Text’, 40. C. Stevens, ‘Titus in inline-graphic 32 and Sinaiticus: Textual Reliability and Scribal Design’, Atlanta ETS Annual Meeting 18 Nov. 2015, found that inline-graphic 32 (NA28, 793, ‘ca. 200’) and Sinaiticus differ in only one letter throughout their respective texts of Titus. Since scribes then copied entire collections of NT epistles, this indicates that the entire text of the epistles in Sinaiticus goes back at least to ca. 200. The Vaticanus Gospels combined with the Sinaiticus epistles apparently supply a second-century text of virtually the entire NT.

73 See above, pp. 608–9.

74 Of course, this limited set does not imply that there are no blocks of added text in the Vaticanus Gospels. Metzger B., A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1994 2) 59 , argues convincingly that Matt 27.49b in Vaticanus is added text.

75 See above, p. 614.

76 Cf. Metzger, Textual Commentary, 103, 189.

77 See above, pp. 615–18, and 621–2.

78 Birdsall J., ‘The Codex Vaticanus: Its History and Significance’, The Bible as Book: The Transmission of the Greek Text (ed. McKendrick S. and O'Sullivan O.; London/New Castle, DE: British Library/Oak Knoll, 2003) 3341, at 35.

79 See above, p. 615 and n. 38.

80 So Swanson, 1 Corinthians, 293–304; Swanson R., New Testament Greek Manuscripts, Variant Readings Arranged in Horizontal Lines against Codex Vaticanus: 2 Corinthians (Carol Stream, IL/Pasadena, CA: Tyndale House/William Carey, 2005) 189–93.

81 TP = transcriptional probability. So Forte, ‘Observations’, 291; Payne P., ‘Ms. 88 as Evidence for a Text without 1 Cor 14.34–5’, NTS 44 (1998) 152–8; Payne, ‘Fuldensis’, 240–50; Payne, Woman, 227–51.

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