Theology Word of the Day – Homoioteleuton

September 17th, 2008

And the word of the day is: Homoioteleuton (ho-mee-oh-te-loot’-on)

Roughly, “same ending”.  A homoioteleuton is two lines of text in which the ending is the same. For example:

1  The very tall man was walking
2  down the well-lit city street
3  where the woman was talking
4  to a little girl.

During the copying of manuscripts, this can result in recognizable kind of copying error: Skipping a section of the text.

In this example, if you’re copying the text, it would be easy to skip lines 2 & 3.  You copy line 1, and when your eyes go back to the page, you accidentally go back to the end of line 3 instead of the end of line 1.  You end up with “The very tall man was walking to a little girl.”

This can be very useful to textual critics, trying to figure out which manuscript has the original reading.  If you have two manuscripts (A and B), and A reads 1,4 while B reads 1,2,3,4, you can be pretty sure what happened.  “Oh,” you say, “the scribe skipped those lines because of the similar ending homoioteleuton.”


2 Responses to “Theology Word of the Day – Homoioteleuton”

  1. Ellen Margheim says:

    Hmmm…okay…I take back my tongue-in-cheek comment about the previous word of the day…

    I actually DO think your “theology word of the day” posts are informative, and thus worthy of your blog…

    …you have my permission to carry on…


  2. Tim says:


    I’m not sure how often I’ll do these. It should probably be called “Theology Word of the Oh-look-Tim-found-another-fun-word-to-talk-about.”