What do the Sigla in a New Testament Apparatus Mean? UBS Edition

Matthew 1:7-8, UBS 3

Last week I wrote about critical editions of the Greek New Testament1, and showed some pictures of Matthew 1 from several editions. Some of those pictures also had the critical apparatuses in them, which seem very cryptic. Actually, they are codes, and anyone who knows the non-secret code can decode an apparatus (with some practice). The symbols are technically called sigla (plural) or siglum (singular).

In addition to having Greek in the apparatus, there are also symbols to keep track of the variant units and variant readings, and references to witnesses (manuscripts). A lot of information can be packed into a relatively small space. Some resources are needed to decode the symbols, and a few are listed at the bottom of this article.

The two texts of the Greek New Testament that are studied the most are the Nestle-Aland (NA) and United Bible Societies (UBS), which have the same text, but use different apparatuses. The UBS apparatus is designed for Bible translators, and only shows variant readings translators should be aware of, while the NA apparatus is intended for scholarly research.  I find the UBS apparatus a bit easier to read and understand than the NA apparatus, so I’ll start with UBS. The page I showed last week from the UBS 3rd edition (UBS5 is current) has its first textual variant in Matthew 1:7-8, the genealogy of Jesus.

7 …and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah…. (Matthew 1:7-8 ESV)

The variant unit is the name Asaph at the end of verse 7 and repeated at the beginning of verse 8. The four lines of text at the bottom of the picture, the apparatus, show there are two different readings for the name. Some Greek New Testaments use Ἀσάφ (Asaph), while some other editions use Ἀσά (Asa). 

Some web browsers may not display all of the symbols correctly.

Matthew 1:7-8, UBS 3
Matthew 1:7-8, UBS 3

The first section in the apparatus shows the witness support for the selected reading

  • 7-8 – Verse numbers
  • {B} – The letter {B} indicates that the text is almost certain
  • Ἀσάφ – The selected reading, Ἀσάφ (Asaph) was a musician (1 Chronicles 25:1)
  • The next section is a list of witnesses (manuscripts) that support the reading
    • \mathfrak {P}^{1}Papyrus 1 or GA P1 (A.D. 250; Alexandrian)
    • א – Codex Sinaiticus or GA01 (A.D. 325-375; Alexandrian)
    • B – Codex Vaticanus  or GA03 (A.D. 300-350; Alexandrian)
    • C – Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus or GA04 (A.D. 400-499; Alexandrian with Byzantine)
    • (DLuke) – Codex Bezae Cantabrigensis or GA05, a diglot written in both Greek and Latin. 2 (A.D. 400-499; Western).3
    • f1Miniscule4 family 1 contains miniscule manuscripts 1, 118, 131, 205, 209, 872 (in Mark only), 884 (in part), 1582, 2193, and 2542 (A.D. 900-1499; Eclectic)
    • f13Miniscule family 13 contains miniscule manuscripts 13, 69, 124, 346, 543, 788, 826, 828, 983, and 1689 (A.D. 1000-1499; Eclectic)
    • 700 1071 – Miniscule manuscripts (A.D. 1000-1199; 700 Caesarean; 1071 unknown)
    • 𝑙185 m ptMenologion Lectionary, and this verse appears more than once with variant readings (A.D. 1000-1099)
    • itaur,e,dLuke,g1,k,q – Old Latin (Italia) manuscripts Codex Aureus, Codex PalatinusCodex Bezae Cantabrigensis (Latin), Codex Sangermanensis I, Codex Bobiensis and Codex Monacensis  (before Latin Vulgate in A.D. 380.)
    • syrhmg – Syriac Harclean, marginal note (A.D. 616)
    • copsa,bo – Copic manuscripts, Sahidic (Southern Egypt) and Boharic (Northern Egypt) dialects.5
    • amr – Armenian manuscripts.
    • eth – Ethiopian manuscripts.
    • geo – Georgian manuscripts.
    • (Epiphanius) – Church Father Epiphanius of Salamis (died A.D. 403) used a slight variation of Ἀσάφ when referring to this verse in at least one of his writings.
Matthew 1:7-8, UBS 3
Matthew 1:7-8, UBS 3

// – Start of the next section, this time with the alternate reading. 

  • Ἀσά – Alternate reading.  Ἀσά (Asa) was a King of Judah (1 Kings 15:8-9)
  • The next section is a list of witnesses (manuscripts) that support the reading
    • K – Codex Cyprius or GA017 (A.D. 900-999; Byzantine)
    • L – Codex Regius or GA19 (A.D. 700-799; Alexandrian)
    • W – Codex Washingtonianus or GA032 (A.D. 400-499; Eclectic)
    • Δ – Codex Sangallensis or GA037 (A.D. 800-899; Byzantine with Alexandrian)
    • Π – Codex Petropolitanus or GA041 (A.D. 800-899; Byzantine)
    • 28 33 565 892 1009 1010 1079 1195 1216 1230 1241 1242 1365 1546 – Miniscule manuscripts (A.D. 800-1399; mixture of text types)
    • (2148) – Miniscule manuscript 2148 has a slight variation,  Ἀσσά
    • Byz – Byzantine text type6 usually has this reading
    • LectmMenologion Lectionary readings usually have this reading
    • 𝑙185m ptMenologion Lectionary, and this verse appears more than once with variant readings (A.D. 1000-1099)
    • Ita,f,ff1 – Old Latin (Italia) manuscripts Codex Vercellensis Codex Brixianus, Codex Corbeiensis I  (before Latin Vulgate in A.D. 380.)
    • vg – Latin Vulgate (A.D. 380)
    • Syrc,s,p,h,palSyriac versions Curetonianus, Sinaiticus, Peshitta, Harclean, Palestinian (A.D. 300-699)
    • Epiphanius – Church Father Epiphanius of Salamis (died A.D. 403) generally used Ἀσά when referring to this verse in his writings.
    • Augustine – Church Father Augustine (died A.D. 430) used the reading Ἀσά

The reading Ἀσάφ (Asaph, the musician) was selected by the United Bible Societies as the correct reading, because the manuscripts it appears in are generally older. The reading Ἀσά (Asa, King of Judah) was not chosen because it primarily appears in later manuscripts. If you read my article What are the Approaches to New Testament Textual Criticism?, you might recognize this is an instance of Reasoned Eclecticism, where the Alexandrian text types7 are the preferred sources.

The key to decoding this information is found in United Bible Societies Greek New Testament, Third Edition (Corrected), Introduction.8.

As you can see, there’s a lot of information is in the apparatus. Learning what the symbols in an apparatus means isn’t trivial, but with the appropriate resources, it’s not too difficult to decode.

Resources

Footnotes

  1. What is a Critical Edition of the New Testament?
  2. There are two codices named D. Dea, named Codex Bezae Cantabrigensis or GA05, contains the Gospels and Acts. Dp, named Codex Claromontanus, or GA06, contains the Pauline epistles.
  3. The page which should contain Matthew 1:1-20 is missing or damaged. Based on comparisons of the genealogies in Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:21-38, D would likely have used Ἀσάφ.
  4. All words are written in the Greek equivalent of lower case.
  5. Copic was the last spoken and written version of the Egyptian language, and has been nearly extinct since the 1600’s. Arabic is now the most common language in Egypt.
  6. What are New Testament Text Types?
  7. What are New Testament Text Types?, How do New Testament Text Types Compare?
  8. These links are to UBS GNT Third Edition, available on Archive.org. A free account is required to view the whole book.

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