Exodus and Exit everywhere and look at Matthew 6:19

I was transcribing some Gothic and noticed that Codex Argenteus has two different words for stealing in verse 19 and verse 20 respectively of Matthew chapter 6. These verses aren’t particularly known for textual variants. Here’s ESV to give you an idea what we’re talking about:

19“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Confused flower

In verse 19, the word was hlifand. It must be a relative of the Greek verb κλέπτειν kleptīn with the same meaning and Latin clepere.

In verse 20, the word was stiland, from which we have to steal in modern English and stjäla in Swedish.

So, the first word has connections to Greek and Latin, whereas the second word has connections to modern and medieval Germanic languages. Hmm. Could it be that hlifan is the older word, slipping out of usage around Wulfila’s age, and stilan being the new word? Or could it be that hlifan was from a rather literal translation and stilan was copied from another manuscript featuring a purer Germanic vocabulary?

Verse 20 begins a Eusebian canon with a parallell passage in Luke 12:33. Verse 19 has no parallell in the other gospels. Should we ask why Luke included verse 20 or why he excluded verse 19, or both?

Christian Classics Ethereal Library has a Catena in English translation which features among others a pseudo-Chrysostom, that is not the real John Chrysostom but a fan of him or someone with a similar ethos and writing style:

Pseudo-Chrys.: Another reading is: “Where moth and banqueting consume”. — http://www.ccel.org/ccel/aquinas/catena1.ii.vi.html

And Wikipedia says:
“The idea of heaven as a storehouse for spiritual treasures existed before Jesus, being found in several Jewish works of the period […] It has been noted that the verse may specifically be an encouragement to alms giving” — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_6:19%E2%80%9320

This might be more true for verse 20 than 19.


Ni huzdjaiþ ïzwis huzda ana airþai·
Don’t collect your savings on earth,

(Assuming a Hebrew or Aramaic origin of the gospel, rather than “on earth”, ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς/ana airþai may have translated בארץ as reconstructed by Delitzsch and others. We should therefor reckon with the possibility it can mean in [the]land/in [the] country rather than on [the] planet earth. C.f. ex. Exodus 9:22 LXX.)

þarei malo jah nidwa frawardeiþ·
where moth and rust corrupt

jah þarei þiubos ufgraband jah hlifand·
and where thieves dig up/in and steal

ïþ huzdjaiþ ïzwis huzda ïn himina·
But collect your savings in heaven,

þarei ni malo nih nidwa frawardeiþ·
where neither moth or rust corrupt

jah þarei þiubos ni ufgraband nih stiland·
and where thieves don’t dig up/in or steal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *