The Development of the Metobelus in Origen’s System According to Codex Colbertinus-Sarravianus

The metobelus is generally considered one of the sigla Origen used in his work on the Hexapla. This siglum is used to terminate a reading initiated by an asterisk or obelus. The evidence from the Syro-hexapla (Syh), in which the metobelus finds consistent use, confirms this standard scholarly judgment.
This judgment, however, assumes that a later development may have been an original part of Origen’s method. Origen refers to his work on the Hexapla in two places: Commentary on Matthew 13.14 and Epistle to Africanus. While the setting of each of these documents is different, Origen’s description of his work is nearly identical. In neither place does Origen designate a siglum to close the readings.
Early manuscript evidence also calls the consensus into question. Schironi notes that P.Grenf. does not contain the metobelus. This manuscript may be dated to within or shortly after Origen’s lifetime, and so may accurately reflect the practice of the method he describes. Origen does not mention the metobelus, then, because he did not use it. This fact accounts for the mingling of Origenic material with the Greek textual tradition.
This lack of a siglum of termination had the potential to undermine Origen’s textual work because the length of the readings would become unclear in transmission. Codex Colbertinus-Sarravianus (Ra G), a manuscript of the IV/V century CE, contains different ways of closing readings. This shows that the scribes responsible for the manuscript were conscious of the problems with Origen’s system and sought to ensure stability in textual transmission. One of these methods of closing readings is the metobelus.
In this paper I trace the development of the metobelus as observed in Ra G. I begin by showing the different ways that the scribes of Ra G marked the termination of readings besides the metobelus along with the inadequacies of these methods. I then show the different uses of the metobelus in Ra G, explaining the development of the metobelus from a simple punctuation mark to the role it would come to hold by the time of the Syro-Hexapla (Syh). I trace this development by examining the occurrences of the metobelus when it is not used according to the scholarly consensus. I conclude by noting that Ra G stands at a temporal midpoint between P.Grenf. and Syh. The development we see in Ra G accounts for the lack of a metobelus in P.Grenf. and the full incorporation of the sign in Syh.