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Question: Why did Matthew write Asaph instead of Asa and Amos instead of Amon?
Matthew's confusion/error
Scribal error
Theological point
Other (Please explain)

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Author Topic: Variant spellings in Jesus' genealogy in Matthew  (Read 448 times) Average Rating: 0
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Theophilos78
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« on: October 29, 2012, 04:35:46 PM »

The name "Asa" in Jesus' genealogy in Matthew has the following footnote by the NET Bible:

4 tc The reading ᾿Ασάφ (Asaf), a variant spelling on ᾿Ασά (Asa), is found in the earliest and most widespread witnesses (Ì1vid א B C [Dluc] Ë1,13 700 pc it co). Although Asaph was a psalmist and Asa was a king, it is doubtful that the author mistook one for the other since other ancient documents have variant spellings on the king’s name (such as “Asab,” “Asanos,” and “Asaph”). Thus the spelling ᾿Ασάφ that is almost surely found in the original of Matt 1:7-8 has been translated as “Asa” in keeping with the more common spelling of the king’s name.

The name "Amon" has a similar footnote attached to it by the NET Bible:

5 tc ᾿Αμώς (Amws) is the reading found in the earliest and best witnesses (א B C [Dluc] γ δ θ Ë1 33 pc it sa bo), and as such is most likely original, but this is a variant spelling of the name ᾿Αμών (Amwn). The translation uses the more well-known spelling “Amon” found in the Hebrew MT and the majority of LXX mss. See also the textual discussion of “Asa” versus “Asaph” (vv. 7-8); the situation is similar.

Footnotes taken from: https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Matthew+1

What would you think of these explanations? If Matthew originally had "Asaph" instead of "Asa" and "Amos" instead of "Amon", why do we have these names modified in the current texts now?

1)Did Matthew make a mistake and we later corrected it? 
2) Are we to blame a scribe and correct his error?
3) Did Matthew use these names in a different form because he wanted to make a theological point? (Asaph was a Psalmist and Amos was a prophet.)
4) Did Matthew have other reasons we can but guess?

Thanks for voting and expressing your opinion.  angel
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Theophilos78
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« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2012, 07:41:30 AM »

OMG! Someone chose the first option! Unbelievable!  Cheesy

I chose "Other".

It seems no one is interested in this poll and discussion.  Grin
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« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2012, 10:08:51 AM »

I see that more people are voting, but no explanation coming.  Grin

Should I wait longer or just present my explanation?
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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2012, 10:19:22 AM »

I would like to hear it. Go ahead.
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Theophilos78
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2012, 11:28:37 AM »

My personal theory:

AMON or AMOS?

I think Amos was the original spelling in Matthew. This was neither Matthew's nor a scribe's error, but was related to the fact that Matthew's Gospel was written in Greek.

In Greek language many nouns end in -s, and this phoneme turns into -n when put into the accusative case. For example:

Nominative     Accusative
Kyrios              Kyrion
Theos              Theon
Stauros            Stauron

We can see something similar in Jesus' genealogy in Matthew. Most of the time, personal names end in -s in nominative case whereas in -n in accusative case:

᾿Οζίαν  ᾿Οζίας
Εζεκίαν ᾿Εζεκίας
Ιωσίαν ᾿Ιωσίας
Ιεχονίαν ᾿Ιεχονίας

Thus, it would be very easy for the name Amon to be transformed into Amos through assimilation. Amon would be considered the accusative form of Amos like most of the other names. We should keep in mind that the genealogy presented by Matthew gives the name in accusative form first and then in nominative form.

If this is the case, we cannot talk of a mistake or confusion, but can we still accuse Matthew of "Hellenizing" a Hebrew name? NO. This is because Matthew was not the only person to write AmoS although the original name of the Hebrew King was AmoN. I did research in the Greek version of the Hebrew Bible and came across something very surprising. Although the translators generally kept faithful to the Hebrew form of the name Amon, TWO verses in the Septuagint have the name AMOS rather than Amon:

[accordingly] as the word of God came to him in the days of Josias son of Amos king of Juda, in the thirteenth year of his reign.
ὡς ἐγενήθη λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ᾿Ιωσία υἱοῦ ᾿Αμὼς βασιλέως ᾿Ιούδα, ἔτους τρισκαιδεκάτου ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ αὐτοῦ· (Jeremiah 1:2)

In the thirteenth year of Josias, son of Amos, king of Juda, even until this day for three and twenty years, I have both spoken to you, rising early and speaking.
ἐν τῷ τρισκαιδεκάτῳ ἔτει ᾿Ιωσία υἱοῦ ᾿Αμὼς βασιλέως ᾿Ιούδα καὶ ἕως τῆς ἡμέρας ταύτης εἴκοσι καὶ τρία ἔτη καὶ ἐλάλησα πρὸς ὑμᾶς ὀρθρίζων καὶ λέγων (Jeremiah 25:3)

We see that only in the Greek version of Jeremiah the name AMOS is preferred over AMON. In the Greek version of another prophetic book the name AMON is maintained:

 λόγος κυρίου ὃς ἐγενήθη πρὸς Σοφονιαν τὸν τοῦ Χουσι υἱὸν Γοδολιου τοῦ Αμαριου τοῦ Εζεκιου ἐν ἡμέραις Ιωσιου υἱοῦ Αμων βασιλέως Ιουδα (Zephaniah 1:1)

We do not know exactly why Jeremiah LXX contains AMOS rather than AMON. A possibility is that in the Masoretic version of Jeremiah the name AMON refers to a false god rather than a king:

The Lord God of Israel who rules over all says, “I will punish Amon, the god of Thebes. I will punish Egypt, its gods, and its kings. I will punish Pharaoh and all who trust in him.

Yet the interesting thing is that this verse is missing from the Septuagint!

Conclusion: Matthew quoted the name of the Hebrew king (Amon) from Jeremiah LXX (AMOS). Although we cannot know exactly why he did so, we know that the occurrence of the name Amon as AMOS in Matthew is by no means a mistake.


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« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2012, 12:38:39 PM »

I'll admit to not know a whole lot about this specificissue, but I don't think confusion/error could be ruled out. Perhaps not that of Matthew perhaps his translators. There is an older Hebrew gospel that very much resembles Matthew but has a few things left out. Some people think Matthew is a revision and translation of this earlier.

I don't know off the top of my head if the geneaology is in the Hebrew gospel.
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« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2012, 07:12:14 AM »

I'll admit to not know a whole lot about this specific issue, but I don't think confusion/error could be ruled out. Perhaps not that of Matthew perhaps his translators. There is an older Hebrew gospel that very much resembles Matthew but has a few things left out. Some people think Matthew is a revision and translation of this earlier.

I don't know off the top of my head if the geneaology is in the Hebrew gospel.

Thanks for the answer, but this is not relevant to my OP.  Wink I only asked a question about the particular way two Hebrew names in Jesus' genealogy were spelled in the first canonical Gospel, which the Tradition ascribes to Matthew. The same Tradition regards the Gospel of Hebrews as apocryphal and heretical (of the Ebionites).
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« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2012, 01:25:13 PM »

I don't think it goes beyond the fact that in Greek  ᾿Ασάφ and ᾿Αμώς can't occur in Greek and can't be declined.
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2012, 06:46:24 AM »

I don't think it goes beyond the fact that in Greek  ᾿Ασάφ and ᾿Αμώς can't occur in Greek and can't be declined.

but Amos and Asaf do occur in Matthew's Gospel, which is in Greek.  Huh
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« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2012, 07:57:38 AM »

My personal theory

Why ASAPH rather than ASA?

In my opinion, ASA was spelled as ASAPH in Matthew because the Evangelist most likely wanted to point at a play on the Greek version of the name Jehoshaphat. This Hebrew name turns into Ἰωσαφάτ when put into Greek. Since in Greek Ἰωσ means "Son", the word Ἰωσαφάτ is phonologically closer to the name ᾿Ασάφ (Asaph).

More interestingly, I checked a particular version of the Septuagint and saw that in a few instances where Psalmist Asaph's son Joah was mentioned the name Asaph was written as Saphat!

They summoned the king, so Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace supervisor, accompanied by Shebna the scribe and Joah son of Asaph, the secretary, went out to meet them. (2 Kings 18:18 NET Bible)

καὶ ἐβόησαν πρὸς ᾿Εζεκίαν, καὶ ἦλθον πρὸς αὐτὸν ῾Ελιακὶμ υἱὸς Χελκίου ὁ οἰκονόμος καὶ Σωμνὰς ὁ γραμματεὺς καὶ ᾿Ιωὰς ὁ υἱὸς Σαφὰτ ὁ ἀναμιμνῄσκων. (IV. Kings 18:18 SEPTUAGINT) http://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/septuagint/chapter.asp?book=12&page=18

When we read the phrase "son of Saphat" in Greek, it is equal to the Greek version of the Hebrew name: Ἰωσαφάτ. This play on the names makes Asaph and Asa related.
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« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2012, 11:31:33 AM »

I don't think it goes beyond the fact that in Greek  ᾿Ασάφ and ᾿Αμώς can't occur in Greek and can't be declined.

but Amos and Asaf do occur in Matthew's Gospel, which is in Greek.  Huh
Greek texts (and not just those of the LXX/NT) are not consistent.  For that matter, most languages aren't when it comes what to do with foreign names, especially those that violate the structure of the language.
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A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
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                           and both come out of your mouth
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