Today I want to share with you another example of how the original Hebrew text is being restored to us thru careful comparison of various sources.
When I began work on Matthew 5:25, I immediately noticed a difficulty with the opening of this verse. Both the DuTillet and Munster texts of Hebrew Matthew open with the words יאות לך ולשטנך במהרה literally “may you and your adversary ____ quickly” This Hebrew text is clearly missing at the very least a verb. The Shem Tob version offers little help, as it is in far left field reading ראה תמהר לרצות שונאך “see that you quickly appease your enemy…”
However, we have another source for Hebrew Matthew, the Iohannes Quinquarboreus Avrila Matthew Notes.
Johannes Quin-Quarboreus of Aurila, was also a Hebrew teacher who had been a colleague of Munster. He held the chair of Hebrew and Syriac at the College de France, and was generally considered one of the foremost linguists of his time. He published many books in Paris for Hebrew language students. His name appears with many variants, such as Johanne Quinquarboreo Aurilacensi, and Jean Cinquabres, etc. He died in 1587.
In 1551 he published his own edition of Hebrew Matthew in Paris. In this edition he republished Munster’s text as his main text, but added marginal notes to add “a sufficiency of authorities”, and deferring to “the ancient author” over Munster’s “restorations”. It would appear that he had access to multiple copies of Hebrew Matthew, but to Munster’s notes as well (since Munster’s printed edition did not mark his restorations). He writes in his preface (which is dated 1550):
I would not dare to affirm anything on the matter
than what I think is needful in consideration
of a sufficiency of authorities. If, however,
Munster has recommended to us, as almost certainly
better restorations or additions of his own suggestion,
by asterisk or whatever other sign he noted them,
to the extent that we know the style and phraseology
of the ancient author, the better judgment has been
placed on the author. When St Matthew wrote his gospel
in Hebrew, I think, following the many opinions of
illustrious men saying so, that no-one, unless he
wanted to be tarnished or resist the truth, would
turn in such a true pearl for a marble.
(Torat HaMashiach; Torat Elohim Khadashah V’hi B’shorat HaAdonaeynu Yeshua HaMashiach K’pi Matti HaM’Bsher ; Sanctum Domini Nostri Iesu Christi Hebraicum Euangelium secundum Matthaeum; Paris, France; 1551; Latin Preface)
It is clear from this statement that He regarded this Hebrew Matthew as having been the work of the “ancient author” (Matthew).
Fortunately I have a copy of this 1551 edition in my vast library and this very passage (the opening of Matthew 5:25) is one of those in which Quinquarboreus preserved an alternate reading in his marginal notes. His alternate reading is [במהרה] חתחבר השלם עם שטנך literally “join in the fellowship of shalom with your adversary ” so that the original reading was “Be you in the fellowship of shalom with your adversary quickly”
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