Chapter 8: Textual Considerations
[Footnotes are in red and placed in brackets]
“Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more!
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea, and one on shore;
To one thing constant never.”
-William Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing (1598)
There are a number of passages found in the Traditional Text that have fallen upon hard times. With the discovery of various manuscripts and advancements in textual criticism, we now have about six thousand places where the Traditional Text differs from the more popular Critical Text. Most of these are minor variants not affecting the gist of the text. Some, however, are of greater significance.
The purpose of this chapter is not to examine all the passages that have textual variations in them. Nor is this chapter designed to condemn the Critical Text simply because it differs from the Traditional Text. It is the focus of this chapter to take a closer look at the textual support of certain passages that are currently considered erroneous. Consequently, the other side of the textual evidence that espouses the Traditional Text and biblical preservation is presented, establishing that what has been handed down to us through the ages has been correct after all.
Despite one’s position concerning textual criticism, an additional point needs to be addressed: those who profess to believe its contents should not treat the word of God as they would any other book. Along with sound searching and solid study, we must not forsake our faith in biblical principles and promises. William Shakespeare is not the only one to warn us of the folly of man and the ever-changing nature of his comprehension. Scripture itself repeats the charge and informs us that the arm of flesh will fail. Therefore, our confidence must be placed in the Lord and his word (2 Chronicles 32:8; Psalm 118:8).
The passage in question is the conclusion of what is commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer ends with the doxology, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” This phrase is found in the majority of Greek manuscripts, the Greek Textus Receptus and Majority Text, and is the reading of early English versions, the KJV, and the NKJV. It is not found in the main body of the Critical Text or most modern versions.
Some have argued that the prayer is the same as the one found in Luke 11:2-4. In that passage the doxology does not appear. It is then suggested that scribes who had a habit of harmonizing various passages in the four Gospels did so with this prayer. [Bruce M. Metzger, The Text Of The New Testament, 3rd ed. (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1992), 197.]While the two passages are similar in content it is doubtful they are the same prayer. The passage in Matthew is given for the multitude when Jesus preached his celebrated Sermon on the Mount. The passage in Luke is given specifically for the disciples of the Lord when asked how they should pray. Similarity, it should be remembered, does not mean sameness. It is not a surprise to find this prayer, or at least a form of it, appearing on more than one occasion.
The question then arises: “Did the prayer in Matthew originally contain the concluding phrase as found in the Traditional Text?” Among the Greek uncials it is found in W (fifth century), L (eighth century), 0233 (eighth century), K (ninth century), D (ninth century), Q (ninth century), and P (tenth century). It is found in the majority of all Greek minuscules such as: 28, 33, 565, 700, 892, 1009, 1010, 1071, 1079, 1195, 1216, 1230, 1241, 1242, 1365, 1546, 1646, 2174 (dating from the ninth century to the twelfth century). It is also found in the majority of all existing Greek lectionaries. Therefore, the weight of the Greek witnesses argues for its inclusion and validity.
It is likewise found in several ancient translations such as some Old Latin manuscripts, the Old Syrian, and some Coptic versions. The Syriac Peshitta (second/third century) reads, “And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever: Amen.”Therefore, the reading embraces antiquity as well as geographical support.
The passage also has patristic support. The distinguished orthodox father of the fourth century, John Chrysostom, cites this passage. He writes, “by bringing to our remembrance the King under whom we are arrayed, and signifying him to be more powerful than all. ‘For thine, ’ saith he, ‘is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory’.” [John Chrysostom, “Homily XIX,” The Preaching of Chrysostom, ed. Joroslav Pelikan, (Philadelphia: Fortress Press), 145.] The oldest witness, which outdates all Greek manuscripts containing Matthew chapter six, is the Didache (otherwise known as the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles). This ancient catechism dates to the early second century, shortly after 100 AD, and contains a form of the Lord’s Prayer:
“But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites; for they fast on the second and fifth day of the week; but do ye fast on the fourth day and the Preparation (Friday). Neither pray as the hypocrites; but as the Lord commanded in his Gospel, thus pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth. Give us today our daily (needful) bread, and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Thine is the power and the glory for ever. Thrice in the day thus pray.”[Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, 8:1]
Finally, in his studies on old papyri, Dr. George Milligan includes a sixth century prayer that incorporates the prayer of Matthew 6:13. Despite the fact that this papyrus is badly worn, it clearly contains the phrase in question. [George Milligan, Sections From The Greek Papyri (Cambridge: University Press, 1912), 132-134.] The textual evidence for the traditional reading is both ancient and massive, and should be retained in our English translations.
The Traditional Text reads, “As it is written in the prophets,” and then cites from Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. Other texts read, “As it is written in the Prophet Isaiah,” before quoting Malachi and Isaiah. The reading of the Traditional Text has considerable support. It is found in many of the Greek uncials (A, K, P, W, P), the majority of Greek minuscules (28, 1009, 1010, 1079, 1195, 1216, 1230, 1242, 1252, 1344, 1365, 1546, 1646, 2148) and the majority of Greek lectionaries. Thus the Greek support dates from the fourth century onward. Additionally we also find the same reading in the Syriac Harclean version (616 AD), the Armenian version (fourth/fifth century) and the Ethiopic versions of the sixth century. It also receives patristic citations from many of the church fathers such as the Latin version of Irenaeus (202 AD), Photius (895 AD), and Theophylact (1077 AD).
Contextually there arises a problem with the reading as found in the Critical Text. The passage cites both the Prophet Malachi (3:1) and the Prophet Isaiah (40:3). The reading, “As it is written in Isaiah the Prophet,” seems inconsistent. Nevertheless, it has been noted that Isaiah was the major prophet and therefore he takes preeminence over Malachi. To illustrate this point, scholars often refer to Matthew 27:9. They claim this passage is not really a citation of Jeremiah but instead a quotation of Zechariah 11:12. Jeremiah receives the preeminence as the major prophet.
However, this point can be argued. The text in Matthew does not say it was written as the passage in Mark does. Instead, the text in Matthew states, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy.” God, the Author of Scripture, is aware of who writes what and who speaks what. Simply because Zechariah writes the passage does not mean Jeremiah did not speak it. Also, Zechariah warned Israel to pay attention to what the former prophets had spoken (Zechariah 7:7). The ancient Jews had a saying that, “the spirit of Jeremiah was in Zechariah.” Much of what Zechariah received, he did so from both the Lord and the former prophet, Jeremiah.
The position presented by many that some copyist made the change from “Isaiah the Prophet” to “the prophets” in Mark 1:2 in order to correct what was perceived as a possible error is conjecture. [Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament (New York: United Bible Societies, 2nd ed., 1994), 62.] One can just as easily speculate that an Egyptian copyist not overly familiar with Jewish Old Testament prophets recognized the Isaiah quote and made the change for what he considered to be better clarity. The point still remains that both sides have textual support for their respective positions. It also is understood, as Dr. George Kilpatrick has noted, that most of these types of textual variants were introduced into the manuscripts by the second century. [George D. Kilpatrick, The Principles And Practice Of New Testament Textual Criticism (Belgium: Leuven University Press, 1990), 34.] Therefore, one reading is as likely (textually speaking) as the other. The difference is contextually. It is more truthful to say “the prophets” when citing two prophets. Accordingly, the reading in the Traditional Text is both textually substantial and contextually correct.
This passage is referred to as the longer ending of Mark. Many textual critics doubt its authenticity, believing it was an addition made in the second century. It often appears in modern versions in brackets with footnotes questioning its authenticity. [Kurt and Barbara Aland, The Text Of The New Testament, 2nd ed., trans. Erroll F. Rhodes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 232.] Most textual scholars believe that the text abruptly ends after verse eight. Even the so-called shorter ending that is added after verse eight is considered to have originated in the second century. The shorter ending reads:
“But they reported briefly to Peter and those with him all that they had been bold. And after this, Jesus himself sent out by means of them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.” [Revised Standard Version, footnote]
Most scholars believe the original ending to Mark’s Gospel has been lost. [Metzger, 105. Dr. Metzger footnotes the following regarding the ending of Mark. “Three possibilities are open: (a) the evangelist intended to close his Gospel at this place; or (b) the Gospel was never finished; or, as seems most probable, (c) the Gospel accidentally lost its last leaf before it was multiplied by transcription.”] If this is true, the concept of preserving the words of Scripture is forever annihilated. The words cannot be preserved and lost at the same time. However, textual scholars usually call for its inclusion even if they question its originality. Dr. Bruce Metzger departs from the maxim of modern textual critics, Brevior lectio potior (the shorter reading is preferable), and supports the longer ending even though admittedly he does not regard the passage as genuine. He considers it to be a legitimate part of the New Testament because of its traditional significance to the body of Christendom. [Bruce Metzger, Christian History (interview with Dr. Metzger downloaded from Christian History Magazine, America Online, 9/17/96).] The passage is not contained in the Alexandrian texts, minuscule 2386, the Syrian Sinaitic Version, and a few other translations.
However, it is in most of the Greek uncials (A, C, D05, K, X, D, Q, and P) dating between the fifth and ninth centuries. It is also contained in the later dated Greek minuscules (such as 137, 138, 1110, 1210, 1215, 1216, 1217, 1221, and 1582). It is the reading found in the majority of Old Latin texts as well as the Coptic versions and other early translations. Finally, it is cited (at least in part) by many of the early church fathers such as Justin (165 AD), Tertullian (220 AD), Hippolytus (235 AD), Ambrose (397 AD) and Augustine (430 AD). [John William Burgon, The Revision Revised (Paradise, PA: Conservative Classics, 1883), 422-423. Burgon also supplies additional names of church fathers who support the reading.]
In 177 AD Irenaeus wrote Against Heresies. In it he cites from Mark 16:19, establishing that the longer reading was in existence at this time and was considered canonical, at least by Irenaeus:
“Also, towards the conclusion of his Gospel, Mark says: “So then, after the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God;” confirming what had been spoken by the prophet: “The LORD said to my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstool.” Thus God and the Father are truly one and the same; He who was announced by the prophets, and handed down by the true Gospel; whom we Christians worship and love with the whole heart, as the Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things therein.” (3:10:5).
The difference here is extremely important. If we conclude that this passage is not authentic, then we must question what happened to the original ending of Mark. It is not logical that the Gospel would end at this place so abruptly. Nor is it likely, as some scholars have suggested, that the Gospel was never finished, calling biblical inspiration into question. The conclusion held by most textual scholars, whether liberal or conservative, that the original ending has been lost over the passage of time certainly denies the doctrine of biblical preservation. If we allow that a passage of inspired Scripture has been lost from this section of the Bible, what stops us from making the same application to other passages? It is certainly within the realm of scholastic studies to note any and all textual differences. But once we open the possibility that this or that passage has been lost, we are now trusting in the understanding of men over the biblical promises of God. Certainly it is better to embrace the textual evidence and hold to the promise of preservation.
Here the variant is small but the difference is profound. The Authorized Version and Textus Receptus (Beza’s edition and Elzevir’s edition) use the phrase, “of her purification” (katharismou autes). Modern versions and the Critical Text read, “of their purification” (katharismou auton). Contextually, the reading must stand as reflected in the KJV. Under the Levitical Law a woman was considered unclean after giving birth and needed purification. The passage in Leviticus 12: 2-4 reads,
“Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of the separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled.”
The citation is quite clear: this was “her purifying” and not the purifying of both mother and child. Therefore, the Authorized Version and the Greek Textus Receptus agree with the Levitical Law.
To offset this point, some have suggested that the word them is a reference to Mary and Joseph. The argument is that since Joseph and Mary are mentioned in verse 16 and referred to in the second half of verse 22, the word them referred to the married couple. The obvious doctrinal problem with this is that under the Law of Moses, as set forth in Leviticus 12, the woman and not the husband needed purification after giving birth. The best contextual reading agrees with the Authorized Version, as it would support both the Old Testament Law and the actions presented in Luke’s Gospel.
Admittedly, the Greek support now known for the reading as found in the Textus Receptus is extremely poor. It is found in a few Greek minuscules such as 76 and a few others. [Edward F. Hills, The King James Version Defended (1956; reprint, Des Moines: The Christian Research Press, 1984), 221]. There is an additional textual variant within the Greek manuscripts. Codex D05 (sixth century), which is highly acclaimed among textual scholars, has the reading autou (of it). While the reading autns (of her) is preferred, both readings stand in the genitive singular and not the plural as auton (of them). Additionally, we find the Sinaitic Syriac and the Sahidic Coptic versions supporting 2174 and D05.
The reading her purification has a great deal of textual support among the Latin witnesses. The majority of all Latin manuscripts read, et postquam postquam impleti sunt dies purgationis eius secundum legem mosi (And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses). The Latin word eius (or ejus) means her and stands in the feminine genitive singular, thus of her. In order to have the translation of them, the Latin texts would have to use the word eorum. When we consider the age and the number of extant Latin manuscripts, we find the reading is both ancient and well substantiated. It is also interesting to note that the reading has some support in the forged Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew (possible third century). Written in Latin, it allows us to see that the purification spoken of in Luke 2:22 was a reference to Mary. Pseudo-Matthew reads: “Now, after the days of the purification of Mary were fulfilled according to the law of Moses, then Joseph took the infant to the temple of the Lord” (15:1).
The translators of the Authorized Version were well aware of the textual difference concerning this verse. The Geneva Bible and Bishops’ Bible read, “the days of her purification.” However, Tyndale’s New Testament and the Great Bible read, “the time of their purification.” It should be remembered that the KJV was mainly based on the 1589 and 1598 editions of the Greek New Testament by Theodore Beza. In his annotations Beza writes:
“Most of the [Greek] Codices read “of them” and likewise so does Origen, and unfortunately so does Erasmus. However, they have not considered what the actural Law says about the purification of the mother. And so consequently the old editions [of the Greek] are unfavorable . . . because they have distorted the truth of Scripture and in some degree have lessened the image of Mary’s purity.” [Theodore Beza, Nouum Sive Mouum Foedus Iesu Christi, 1589. Personal translation from the Latin text.]
A careful reading of Beza’s note reveals that he had some textual evidence, based on his study of the then-existing Greek manuscripts, for the reading her. Additionally, he recognized that this was the reading that agrees with the Mosaic Law. In his Latin translation, which was placed between the Greek and the Vulgate, Beza renders the phrase as “dies purationis Mariae” (days of Mary’s purification). This would agree with Pseudo-Matthew in substituting the word her with the name of Mary.
This verse is usually consigned to footnotes in most modern English versions, and is generally considered an addition by some scribe in order to convey a traditional story regarding the healing pool at Bethesda. Yet, to consider this text as a figment of tradition is conjecture. The passage should be considered genuine. It appears in the Greek Textus Receptus, the majority of all existing Greek manuscripts, all of the early English versions, the Authorized Version, and the New King James Version.
If we are to accept a reading based on its wide geographical distribution, we should accept this reading because it has old textual support with the greatest amount of geographical distribution. It is found in codices A, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, D, Q, P and the third corrector of C. The Greek minuscules overwhelming support the verse and is contained in 28, 565, 700, 892, 1009, 1010, 1071, 1195, 1216, 1230, 1241, 1242, 1253, 1344, 1365, 1546, 1646, and 2148. It is also included in the majority of Old Latin manuscripts and early translations.
The verse is found in the Old Coptic Version as edited from the Coptic manuscript Huntington 17 and is translated into English as follows:
“There was an angel (who) came down every hour in the pool, and moved the water. And any one (who) shall come down first after the moving of the water shall be healed of every sickness which (may) be his.” [The Coptic Version Of The New Testament: In The Northern Dialect, vol. 2 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1898), 377-379.]
The same is true of the Old Syriac. James Murdock’s translation of this passage from the Peshitta reads:
“For an angel, from time to time, descended into the baptistery, and moved the waters; and he who first went in, after the moving of the waters, was cured of whatever disease he had.” [Murdock, 172.]
The passage also has patristic citations. It is found in the Diatessaron of the second century. Tertullian (200 AD) notes that an “angel, by his intervention, was wont to stir the pool at Bethsaida.” [The Writings Of Tertullian 3:2:5.] The passage is also cited by Ambrose (397 AD), Didymus (398 AD), Chrysostom (407 AD) and Cyril (444 AD), demonstrating that both Greek and Latin fathers accepted the reading as genuine.
This passage is designated as the Pericope De Adultera, referring to the woman caught in the act of adultery. The passage is included in numerous uncials such as D05, G, H, K, M, U, and G. Among the minuscule or cursive manuscripts it is in 28, 700, 892, 1009, 1010, 1071, 1079, 1195, 1216, 1344, 1365, 1546, 1646, 2148, and 2174. Most Greek manuscripts contain this passage. It also is in early translations such as the Bohairic Coptic Version, the Syriac Palestinian Version and the Ethiopic Version, all of which date from the second to the sixth centuries. It is clearly the reading of the majority of the Old Latin manuscripts and Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. The passage has patristic support: Didascalia (third century), Ambrosiaster (forth century), Ambrose (forth century), the Apostolic Constitutions (which are the largest liturgical collections of writings from Antioch Syria in about 380 AD), Jerome (420 AD), and Augustine (430 AD).
Most textual scholars consider the evidence against it to be overwhelming and reject the reading as original. [Metzger, A Textual Commentary On The Greek New Testament, 187.] Yet, the passage still finds its way into the text of the majority of contemporary translations. Unlike John 5:4, which is confined to a footnote, this passage is retained in the text but usually separated with brackets (as with Mark 16:9-20). If the evidence against it is so convincing and the text is not considered genuine, should not this entire passage be removed from the text itself as other shorter passages are? If one is to remove smaller sections, would not consistency demand the same be done with larger sections if the amount of textual evidence is either the same or greater? Perhaps it is a matter of acceptance. Since this passage is beloved by the majority of the Bible reading public, to remove it from the text would be unthinkable.
Supporters of the Textus Receptus and the Majority Text, on the other hand, have soundly defended the authenticity of this passage. The vast majority of all known Greek manuscripts contain this section. It is clearly part of the Traditional Text. Additionally, the internal evidence demonstrates that this passage is original. If we remove it we have a very erratic jump in textual thought.
The question arises as to why this passage was ever omitted. We find the answer in church history. Augustine makes an astounding statement concerning the authenticity of the passage. After citing the forgiving phrase of Christ, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more,” Augustine writes:
“This proceeding, however, shocks the minds of some weak believers, or rather unbelievers and enemies of the Christian faith: inasmuch that, after (I suppose) of its giving their wives impunity of sinning, they struck out from their copies of the Gospel this that our Lord did in pardoning the woman taken in adultery: as if He granted leave of sinning, Who said, Go and sin no more!” [Augustine, De Conjug. Adult., II:6.]
Augustine implies some fearful scribes who thought the inclusion might lead to adultery omitted this passage. This argument not only seems logical, but also consistent with human nature. It is, at least, as good as modern scholarship’s view that the passage was added as a piece of oral tradition apart from inspiration. [Metzger, 188.]
Here the testimony of this faithful and beloved African, the Ethiopian eunuch, does not appear in the Critical Text. Some have argued that the verse is not genuine because it is found in only a few late manuscripts and was inserted into the Greek text by Erasmus from the Latin Vulgate. It is true that the passage appears in the Latin Vulgate of Jerome. However, the passage also appears in a vast number of other Old Latin manuscripts (such as l, m, e, r, ar, ph, and gig). It also is found in the Greek Codex E (eighth century) and several Greek manuscripts (36, 88, 97, 103, 104, 242, 257, 307, 322, 323, 385, 429, 453, 464, 467, 610, 629, 630, 913, 945, 1522, 1678, 1739, 1765, 1877, 1891, and others). While there are differences even among these texts as to precise wording, the essence of the testimony still remains where it has been removed from other manuscripts. Additionally, Irenaeus (202 AD), Cyprian (258 AD), Ambrosiaster (fourth century), Pacian (392 AD), Ambrose (397 AD), Augustine (430 AD), and Theophylact (1077 AD) all cite Acts 8:37.
The natural question posed by textual scholars is this: if the text were genuine, why would any scribe wish to delete it? [Metzger, 315-316.]In his commentary on the book of Acts, Dr. J. A. Alexander provides a possible answer. By the end of the third century it had become common practice to delay the baptism of Christian converts to assure that they had truly understood their commitment to Christ and were not holding to one of the various heretical beliefs prevalent at that time. [ J. A. Alexander, The Acts Of The Apostle (New York: Scribner, 1967), vol. 1, 349-350.] It is possible that a scribe, believing that baptism should not immediately follow conversion, omitted this passage from the text, which would explain its absence in many of the Greek manuscripts that followed. Certainly this conjecture is as possible as the various explanations offered by those who reject the reading.
Nevertheless, because of biblical preservation, the reading remains in some Greek manuscripts as well as in the Old Latin manuscripts. Clearly the reading is far more ancient than the sixth century, as some scholars have suggested. Irenaeus noted that “the believing eunuch himself: . . . immediately requesting to be baptized, he said, ‘I believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God’.” [Against Heresies: I 1:433.] Likewise, Cyprian quotes the first half of the verse in writing, “In the Acts of the Apostles: ‘Lo, here is water; what is there which hinders me from being baptized? Then said Philip, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest’.” [Treatise 12:3:43.] These statements, clearly quotations of Acts 8:37, appear by the end of the second century and at the first half of the third. We see that the passage was in common use long before the existing Greek manuscripts were ever copied. This in itself testifies to its authenticity and to the assurance of biblical preservation.
The phrase from verse five, “it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks,” is in the Old Latin and some Vulgate manuscripts. It is also in the Peshitta and the Greek of Codex E and 431, but in verse four instead of verse five. The passage from verse six that reads, “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him” is in the Old Latin, the Latin Vulgate, and some of the Old Syrian and Coptic versions. These phrases, however, are not found in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts and therefore do not appear in either the Critical Text or the Majority Text. Yet, they are included in the Textus Receptus. On the surface the textual evidence looks weak. Why, then, should the Textus Receptus be accepted over the majority of Greek witnesses at this point? Because the phrases are preserved in other languages, and the internal evidence establishes that Christ in fact spoke these words at the time of Paul’s conversion and are therefore authentic.
Acts chapter nine is not the only place in Scripture where the conversion of Paul is established. In Acts 22:10 and 26:14 we have the testimony of the Apostle himself. There, in all Greek texts, the phrases in question appear.
And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do.
And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
When the apostle Paul recounts his conversion he cites the words in question. It is certain that the Holy Spirit inspired these words which should be included at Acts 9:5-6. We must conclude that these words were spoken when the event originally occurred. Although they have not been preserved in the Greek manuscripts at Acts 9:6, they have been preserved in the Latin manuscripts (ar, c, h, l, p, ph, t) as well as other translations (Georgian, Slavonic, Ethiopic). The greatest textual critic of all, the Holy Spirit, bears witness to their authenticity by including them in Acts 22:10 and 26:14.
A similar example may be noted in Matthew 19:17, although the textual evidence is much stronger there. The King James Version reads, “And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Modern texts render “why callest thou me good” to “why do you ask me about what is good.” Also, the reply of Christ, “there is none good but one, that is, God” is rendered “there is only one who is good.”
This verse, as it stands in the King James, wonderfully establishes the deity of Jesus Christ. If only God is good and Christ is called good, he must be God. The Greek support for the reading of the KJV, as presented in the Traditional Text, is substantial. Among the uncials it is found in C and W (fifth century), K and D (ninth century) and a few others. It is the reading of the majority of Greek cursives and lectionaries. It is also the reading of the Old Latin, the Old Syriac, the Coptic, and other early translations. The textual evidence is much stronger than that of Acts 9:5-6. Similarly, this passage has additional references to determine what the original reading must be. Again the Holy Spirit comes to the aid of this textual problem by providing for us two other places where this event is cited. In both cases there is no textual variant in the places supporting the disputed passage.
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God.
In neither passage does the Lord say anything like, “Why do you ask me about what is good?” And, in both passages we find the noun “God.” Therefore, we do not have to ask ourselves which reading in Matthew 19:17 is correct because the Holy Spirit has made it clear in additional passages which one is the correct reading. The same principle may be applied to Acts 9:5-6. Once again God bears testimony to his word.
The phrase “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” appears in verses one and four. Most scholars consider this a special type of scribal error called dittography, which is the repetition of a letter, syllable, word, or phrase. The thought is that a scribe accidentally copied the phrase from verse four in verse one, and that the textual error repeated itself in later manuscripts. Scribal errors do occur as is testified in the large amount of variants within the textual witnesses. However, just because a word or phrase is repeated does not mean that a scribal error has occurred.
The Greek phrase me kata sarka peripatousin alla kata penuma (who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit) is supported by the vast majority of Greek manuscripts. Among them are 33, 88, 104, 181, 326, 330, 451, 614, 630, 1241, 1877, 1962, 1984, 1985, 2492, and 2495. These date from the eleventh to the fifteenth century. The phrase is also included in Codex K (ninth century), Codex P (ninth century), and stands in the margin of Codex Sinaiticus. This is also the reading of the majority of Greek lectionaries. Early versions that contain the phrase include some Old Latin manuscripts (such as ar and o), the Harclean version, and the Georgian version. Another textual variant that contains part of the phrase reads me kata sarka peripatousin (who walk not after the flesh). This is the reading found in A, D06, Y, and several minuscules (such as 81, 256, 263, 365, 629, 1319, 1573, 1852, and 2127). It is also the reading of the Latin Vulgate (fourth century), and the Peshitta. The reading in part or in whole has massive and ancient textual support.
The whole verse is cited, with the phrase in question, by Theodoret (466 AD), Ps-Oecumenius (tenth century), and Theophylact (1077 AD). We also have partial citation of the verse by Basil (379 AD). He writes:
“And after he has developed more fully the idea that it is impossible for one who is in the power of sin to serve the Lord, he plainly states who it is that redeems us from such a tyrannical dominion in the words: “Unhappy man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I give thanks to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” Further on, he adds: “There is now, therefore, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh.” [Basil, “Concerning Baptism,” The Fathers Of The Church: Saint Basil Ascetical Works, trans. M. Monica Wagner, vol. 9 (New York: Fathers Of The Church, Inc., 1950), 343.]
When the phrase is not included it creates a possible doctrinal problem. To say there is no condemnation of any kind to all who are in Christ Jesus is to overlook the whole of Scripture. We are told that it is very possible for those who are in Christ to suffer some condemnation, albeit not eternal condemnation. The Christian who walks after the flesh instead of the leading of the Spirit produces works of wood, hay and stubble (1 Corinthians 3:12). Everyone’s works will be tried so as by fire. Fleshly works will be burned and spiritual works will endure. We are told, “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15). Therefore, worldly Christians face a certain amount of condemnation.
We must remember that the word condemnation not only carries the meaning of judgment, but also of disapproval. John informs his “little children” that the heart of the believer is able to pass such condemnation or disapproval on our Christian living (1 John 3:20-21). Not only is there a judgment for believers who stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10), but there can also be a judgment on believers that may cost them their lives if they continue in sin (Acts 5:1-10; 1 John 5:16). Biblically speaking, there is condemnation for believers who walk after the flesh and not after the Spirit. Consequently, the phrase at the end of Romans 8:1 is theologically sound.
1 John 5:7
The passage is called the Johannine Comma and is not found in the majority of Greek manuscripts.However, the verse is a wonderful testimony to the Heavenly Trinity and should be maintained in our English versions, not only because of its doctrinal significance but because of the external and internal evidence that testify to its authenticity.
The External Evidence: Although not found in most Greek manuscripts, the Johannine Comma is found in several. It is contained in 629 (fourteenth century), 61 (sixteenth century), 918 (sixteenth century), 2473 (seventeenth century), and 2318 (eighteenth century). It is also in the margins of 221 (tenth century), 635 (eleventh century), 88 (twelveth century), 429 (fourteenth century), and 636 (fifteenth century). There are about five hundred existing manuscripts of 1 John chapter five that do not contain the Comma. [Kurt Aland, in connection with Annette Benduhn-Mertz and Gerd Mink, Text und Textwert der Griechischen Handschriften des Neuen Testaments: I. Die Katholischen Briefe Band 1: Das Material (Berlin: Walter De Gruyter, 1987), 163-166.] It is clear that the reading found in the Textus Receptus is the minority reading with later textual support from the Greek witnesses. Nevertheless, being a minority reading does not eliminate it as genuine. The Critical Text considers the reading Iesou (of Jesus) to be the genuine reading instead of Iesou Christou (of Jesus Christ) in 1 John 1:7. Yet Iesou is the minority reading with only twenty-four manuscripts supporting it, while four hundred seventy-seven manuscripts support the reading Iesou Christou found in the Textus Receptus. Likewise, in 1 John 2:20 the minority reading pantes (all) has only twelve manuscripts supporting it, while the majority reading panta (all things) has four hundred ninety-one manuscripts. Still, the Critical Text favors the minority reading over the majority in that passage. This is common place throughout the First Epistle of John, and the New Testament as a whole. Therefore, simply because a reading is in the minority does not eliminate it as being considered original.
While the Greek textual evidence is weak, the Latin textual evidence for the Comma is extremely strong. It is in the vast majority of the Latin manuscripts, which outnumber the Greek manuscripts. Although some doubt if the Comma was a part of Jerome’s original Vulgate, the evidence suggests that it was. Jerome states:
“In that place particularly where we read about the unity of the Trinity which is placed in the First Epistle of John, in which also the names of three, i.e., of water, of blood, and of spirit, do they place in their edition and omitting the testimony of the Father; and the Word, and the Spirit in which the catholic faith is especially confirmed and the single substance of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is confirmed. [Prologue To The Canonical Epistles.]
Other church fathers are also known to have quoted the Comma. Although some have questioned if Cyprian (258 AD) knew of the Comma, his citation certainly suggests that he did. He writes: “The Lord says, ‘I and the Father are one’ and likewise it is written of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, ‘And these three are one’.” [Treatises 1 5:423.] Also, there is no doubt that Priscillian(385 AD) cites the Comma:
“As John says “and there are three which give testimony on earth, the water, the flesh, the blood, and these three are in one, and there are three which give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one in Christ Jesus.” [Liber Apologeticus.]
Likewise, the anti-Arian work compiled by an unknown writer, the Varimadum (380 AD) states:”And John the Evangelist says, . . . ‘And there are three who give testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one’.” [Varimadum 90:20-21.] Additionally, Cassian (435 AD), Cassiodorus (580 AD), and a host of other African and Western bishops in subsequent centuries have cited the Comma. Therefore, we see that the reading has massive and ancient textual support apart from the Greek witnesses.
Internal Evidence: The structure of the Comma is certainly Johannine in style. John is noted for referring to Christ as “the Word.” If 1 John 5:7 were an interpretation of verse eight, as some have suggested, than we would expect the verse to use “Son” instead of “Word.” However, the verse uses the Greek word logos, which is uniquely in the style of John and provides evidence of its genuineness.Also, we find John drawing parallels between the Trinity and what they testify (1 John 4:13-14). Therefore, it comes as no surprise to find a parallel of witnesses containing groups of three, one heavenly and one earthly.
The strongest evidence, however, is found in the Greek text itself. Looking at 1 John 5:8, there are three nouns which, in Greek, stand in the neuter (Spirit, water, and blood). However, they are followed by a participle that is masculine. The Greek phrase here is oi marturountes (who bare witness). Those who know the Greek language understand this to be poor grammar if left to stand on its own. Even more noticeably, verse six has the same participle but stands in the neuter (Gk.: to marturoun). Why are three neuter nouns supported with a masculine participle? The answer is found if we include verse seven. There we have two masculine nouns (Father and Son) followed by a neuter noun (Spirit). The verse also has the Greek masculine participle oi marturountes. With this clause introducing verse eight, it is very proper for the participle in verse eight to be masculine because of the masculine nouns in verse seven. But if verse seven were not there it would become improper Greek grammar.
Even though Gregory of Nazianzus (390 AD) does not testify to the authenticity of the Comma, he makes mention of the flawed grammar resulting from its absence. In his Theological Orientations he writes referring to John:
“. . . (he has not been consistent)in the way he has happened upon his terms; for after using Three in the masculine gender he adds three words which are neuter, contrary to the definitions and laws which you and your grammarians have laid down. For what is the difference between putting a masculine Three first, and then adding One and One and One in the neuter, or after a masculine One and One and One to use the Three not in the masculine but in the neuter, which you yourselves disclaim in the case of deity?” [Fifth Orientation: The Holy Spirit.]
It is clear that Gregory recognized the inconsistency with Greek grammar if all we have are verses six and eight without verse seven. Other scholars have recognized the same thing. This was the argument of Robert Dabney of Union Theological Seminary in his book, The Doctrinal Various Readings of the New Testament Greek (1891). Bishop Middleton in his book, Doctrine of the Greek Article, argues that verse seven must be a part of the text according to the Greek structure of the passage. Even in the famous commentary by Matthew Henry, there is a note stating that we must have verse seven if we are to have proper Greek in verse eight.
While the external evidence makes the originality of the Comma possible, the internal evidence makes it very probable. When we consider the providential hand of God and his use of the Traditional Text in the Reformation it is clear that the Comma is authentic.
While the focus of this verse deals with the phrase “book of life,” as opposed to “tree of life,” the issue is deeper. The manuscript Codex 1r used by Desiderius Erasmus in the production of his Greek New Testament is missing the last six verses of Revelation chapter twenty-two. It is thought that Erasmus took the Latin Vulgate and retranslated these verses back into Greek. [Erika Rummel, Erasmus’ Annotations on the New Testament: From Philologist to Theologian (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986), 93. It is claimed that Erasmus openly declares in the Annotations of his 1516 edition (page 675) that he “ex nostris Latinis supplevimus Graeca” (supplied the Greek from the Latin). Thus the claim that the last six verses of Revelation chapter twenty-two were retranslated from the Vulgate into Greek. However, the reprint of the 1516 edition of Erasmus does not contain this phrase on page 675 of his Annotations, which is the conclusion of his notes on the book of Revelation, nor is such a phrase found elsewhere in that edition.] Assuming this hypothesis is true we must ask ourselves the following questions. First, if Erasmus did make use of the Latin Vulgate to supply these last six verses, has the usage of the Latin corrupted the text? Second, was Codex 1r really the only Greek manuscript used by Erasmus for this passage?
Certainly the Latin Vulgate and the Greek Textus Receptus are similar in these last six verses. This, of course, would be natural if the Latin was based on early Greek manuscripts that correspond with the Textus Receptus. We must remember that most of the Greek manuscripts of the second, third, and fourth centuries have not survived the passage of time. However, the Vulgate and the Textus Receptus are not identical either. For example, the conclusion of Revelation 22:20 reads in the Receptus, Amen. Nai, erchou, kurie Iesou (Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus). The Latin reads, amen veni Domine Iesu (Amen come Lord Jesus). The Textus Receptus includes an additional affirmation nai (even so), an addition not found in either the Greek Critical Text or the Latin Vulgate.
If Erasmus did translate back into Greek from the Latin text, he did an astounding job. These six verses consist of one hundred thirty-six Greek words in the Textus Receptus, and one hundred thirty-two Greek words in the Critical Text. There are only eighteen textual variants found within these verses when the two texts are compared. Such textual variants, both in number and nature, are common throughout the New Testament between these two Greek texts. For example, the preceding six verses, Revelation 22:10-15, have fourteen textual variants which are of the same nature, and in Revelation 21:3-8 we find no fewer than twenty textual variants. One would expect, therefore, a greater number of textual variants if Erasmus was translating from the Latin back into Greek, and yet the two texts are extremely close. Even if he did translate from the Latin into Greek it would have no bearing on the doctrine of biblical preservation. Preservation simply demands that God has kept and preserved the words throughout the generations from the time of their inception until this present day and even beyond. It does not demand that these words be preserved in the original languages only.
However, this brings us to our second question. Did Erasmus really translate the Latin back into Greek? Textual scholar Herman C. Hoskier argued that Erasmus did not do this. Instead, he suggests that Erasmus used other Greek manuscripts such as 2049 (which Hoskier calls 141), and the evidence seems to support this position. [H. C. Hoskier, Concerning the Text of the Apocalypse, vol. 2 (London: Bernard Quaritch, Ltd., 1929), 644.] Manuscript 2049 contains the reading found in the Textus Receptus including the textual variant of Revelation 22:19. To this we can also add the Greek manuscript evidence of 296, and the margin of 2067.
Additionally, the Greek text copied by Erasmus in Revelation 22:16-21 reflects a consistency that is found elsewhere in the Textus Receptus, suggesting that it was copied from other Greek manuscripts and not translated from the Latin back into Greek. In Revelation 22:16 we find the phrase tou dabid (the David) in the Textus Receptus as opposed to the Critical Text’s dauid (David). While the English would translate the two identically, it is interesting to note that in Revelation 3:7 we find the same thing. In that passage the Textus Receptus places the definite article before the name of David just as it does in Revelation 22:16, while the Critical Text does not use the definite article before David’s name in either passage.
To counter this, it has been noted that within the text of Erasmus at Revelation 22:16-21 there are a few unusual spellings; for example, elthe (come) instead of the normal erchou (come). This suggests that Erasmus was copying from a Greek manuscript and not translating from the Latin. Erasmus, it should be remembered, was one of the greatest scholars and thinkers of his day. He was fluent in Greek and several other languages. He would have known that the normal New Testament word for come is not elthe but is instead erchou. In fact, Erasmus used erchou in Revelation 22:7; 22:12; and even in 22:20. There must have been a reason for Erasmus to depart from the normal form of the word and write elthe in 22:17. Moreover, the Latin for come in 22:17 is the same Latin word in 22:20, veni. This further suggests that Erasmus was not really translating from the Latin, but was using an additional Greek manuscript other than Codex 1r.
Likewise, there is textual evidence for the reading book of life instead of tree of life. As noted above, the reading is found in a few Greek manuscripts. It is the main reading among the Latin witnesses. The phrase book of life is also the reading of the Old Bohairic version. Finally, it is the reading found in the writings of Ambrose (397 AD), Bachiarius (late fourth century), Primasius (552 AD) and Haymo (ninth century).
One must also consider the internal evidence. The phrase tree of life appears seven times in the Old Testament and three times in the New Testament. In these verses we are told we will be able to eat of this tree, and that this tree of Eden will reappear in Eternity. The idea that one can have their share taken away from the tree of life seems abnormal to Scripture. However, the phrase book of life appears seven other times in the New Testament (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; and 21:27). In each case we find the book of life either contains or does not contain names, or names are blotted out of it. Therefore, the phrase, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life,” is extremely consistent with the biblical texts.
As can be seen from this text, the warning is ominous. While one may understand this passage to apply only to the book of Revelation, it is clear from other passages that the same is true of the whole of Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6). When applied to the verses discussed in this chapter we must conclude that somewhere in the process of transmission someone either added to the text or omitted from it. There’s the rub, and itshould be taken seriously. Scholarship is a noble and honorable profession. However, it ceases to be both if it seeks to usurp the authority of the Lord God. After all, our commitment does not so much rest with our scholarship as it does with the ultimate Scholar.
There is even more information in the book, including extended footnotes and three appendixes.
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