I have been enjoying myself this week exploring the Johannine text of the manuscripts containing the catena by Nicetas of Heraclea. Apart from the frustation of not being able to find my photocopy of Reuss’s Matthäus-, Markus- u. Johannes-Katenen, I have made good progress. The MSS I looked at were 249 317 333 423 430 743 841 and 869. There are probably more, not necessarily with a Gregory-Aland number, but without Reuss I can’t check that . . . Without going into the ins and outs of it, a study of the Teststellen from Text und Textwert for John 1-10 reveals signs of a strong group, with some of the Nicetas MSS sharing a high proportion of non-majority readings. One striking variant showing evidence of grouping is 3E at Test Passage 69 – the only three MSS with this reading are all Nicetas MSS – 249 333 423.
430, which in date is close to Nicetas (who compiled the catena in about 1080), is an important witness. So is 423, copied in 1556 by a Vatican scribe. In fact 423 is 430’s closest relative, closely followed by 249 and 333. So the relationship of 430 and 423 may be a classic example of the way in which the date of a MS doesn’t necessarily tell us very much about a MS’s place in a stemma.
This all preliminary, and it would take a lot more work to begin to produce such a stemma. But at any rate I have found that at least so far as Nicetas is concerned, the MSS with the same commentary have a similar form of text. Curiously, when I first began thinking about this particular question a decade (or possibly more) ago, Neville Birdsall claimed that I was wasting my time because it had been demonstrated that there was no such correlation between catena type and NT text. I wonder what research he had in mind. Can anyone enlighten me?
Now it’s off to write about Codex Sarzanensis for the introduction to Vetus Latina Iohannes.