I am re-reading through the Greek version of Matthew 3 in order to revise one of my papers from Seminary in hopes of submitting it to the Regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. So…why not do my reading in one of the codices? I decided on Vaticanus and began. About fifteen minutes into my reading I came across verse three (yes…it took me that long to read three verses) and noticed something out of place in the margins.
Look to the left of the main text. Do you see a letter from a different language? That is the Hebrew letter lamed. Can you guess why it appears here? Since I can’t find any information about this on the internets, I will have to share with you my unconfirmed suspicions (though I am pretty confident I am correct as I found it in several other places). The lamed serves as a marker for quoted text, and it is most likely an abbreviation of the Hebrew participle lemor “saying.” In this instance Matthew is citing from Isaiah. It is important to not that the lamad only marks the lines of the text that contain a quotation. For instance, the lines of text marked here contain part of the narrative as well as the citation: “[pro]phet saying, ‘A voice crying out in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.'” Notice that the bolded text is not a part of the quotation from Isaiah, but is part of a line that contains the quotation.
But is this part of the original manuscript? After all, Vaticanus contains versification, presumably by a modern scholar seeking to make the text “user-friendly.” Internets…you failed me…now how will discover the answers?