Archive | Textual Problems

Textual Problem Study: Romans 5:1

“Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)

The Problem

Romans 5:1 is our next textual problem study. As will be the case most of the time in this series, this verse makes the list because it contains a variant that is both viable (it has a chance of representing the original) and significant (it changes the meaning to some degree).

Romans 5:1 reads in the NA27 (the standard Greek critical text of the New Testament):

Δικαιωθέντες οὖν ἐκ πίστεως εἰρήνην [ἔχομεν] πρὸς τὸν θεὸν διὰ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

Therefore, having been justified by faith [we have] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Chri

Brackets have been added to show where the variant lies. As you can see, the NA27 has ἔχομεν (echomen) which is the first person plural present active indicative of ἔχώ (echo) meaning “we have”. This reads, “we have peace with God”.  But the earliest and most respected manuscripts (Aleph, B, C, D, K, L, 33, 81, 630, 1175, 1739, pm lat bo) have the subjunctive mood ἔχώμεν (echomen) meaning “Let us have”. See the difference? It is only the later manuscripts (Aleph1, B3, F, G, P, Y, 0220vid, 104, 365, 1241, 1505, 1506, 1739c, 1881, 2464, pm) that contain the reading opted for in NA27.

I would give a parallel list of the English translations, but every English translation that I know of opts for the indicative “we have”. There are variations, however, in some Greek translations. While all three eclectic texts (Greek texts that draw from all available manuscript evidence; USB4, NA27, SBL GNT) have the indicative, both Tischendorf NT (8th Ed; 1872) and Wescott and Hort (1881), who primarily used the great Alexandrian manuscripts (Aleph, B), have the subjunctive, “let us have”. As well, if I remember correctly Harold Hohner believed the subjunctive was original. Continue Reading →

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) is proud to announce the SMU Debate between two noted New Testament scholars, Dr. Bart D. Ehrman and Dr. Daniel B. Wallace

 
CSNTM Press Release: SMU DEBATE

The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) is proud to announce the SMU Debate between two noted New Testament scholars, Dr. Bart D. Ehrman and Dr. Daniel B. Wallace. The debate will be held on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 7 PM in the McFarlin Memorial Auditorium at Southern Methodist University. This debate will feature a dialogue on the reliability of the text of the New Testament. Though Ehrman and Wallace have held public debates in the past, this one will focus on providing a general audience with insider information regarding one of the most significant pieces of literature ever written. Dr. Ehrman, the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, is a New York Times bestselling author who has published over 20 books. His book, Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, questioned the reliability of the New Testament text, arguing that Christian scribes have corrupted it beyond repair. Dr. Wallace, director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts and New Testament Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, has spent his life studying and digitizing ancient copies of the New Testament. He has authored and edited numerous books; most recently he has edited and contributed to Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament: Manuscript, Patristic, and Apocryphal Evidence. He asserts that we have good reason to believe that the New Testament text is reliable. If you are interested in the New Testament and its reliability, this is sure to be an event you will not want to miss. For more information on the debate and to purchase tickets, please visit www.smudebate.com.

Textual Problem Study: Matthew 18:15

 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” (Mat 18:15 ESV)

The Problem

Matthew 18:15 is one of the textual variants in the New Testament that is both viable and significant. A textual variant occurs when there is some degree of disagreement among the nearly six thousand extant (existing) manuscripts. While most scholars agree that none of the variants impact any major doctrine of the historical Christian faith, some are more important than others. For one of these variants to be worth discussion, it must be both 1) viable and 2) significant. For a variant to be “viable,” it has to have a legitimate shot of being the correct rendering of the text. In other words, there has to be some debate about what the original actually says. However, some variants are viable, but not significant. They may have a valid chance of representing the correct reading, but lack any meaningful consequence. For example, there may be some debate about whether a reading is “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ,” or “Peter” or “the Peter,” but normally, this would not be significant since it does not change the meaning of the text and could be unrecognizable when translated. To be significant means that a variant will change the meaning of the passage to some degree.

Matthew 18:15 reads in the NA27 (the standard Greek critical text of the New Testament):

 

 

I know…it’s Greek to you, right? Don’t worry. Here is what the text reads: “If your brother sins [against you] go and show him his fault in private. If he listens, you have won your brother.”

The variant is shown here in brackets: [eis se] “against you.” The earliest and most respected manuscripts (Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, and 0281) lack this addition, while the later Byzantine manuscripts include it. English translations are divided as to which reading best represents the original. Here is a list to show you which reading is preferred by various Bible translation committees and individual translators:

ESV “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”

KJV “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.”

NAS “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

NET  “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother.”

NIV1984  “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”

NIV2011 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.”

HCSB “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother.”

The Message “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend.”

NJB “If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother.”

NLT “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.”

The Significance

The significance of this variant should be fairly obvious. If the shorter reading is preferred, then we are admonished to rebuke brothers and sisters who are involved in sin in general, whether or not it is a direct offense against you. So if you know of someone in the church who has an anger problem, is having an affair, or is cheating on his taxes, you are to follow the procedure of confrontation described in Matthew 18:15-20. However, if the longer reading is preferred, then the confrontation is only necessary when someone in the church sins against you. Cheating on taxes or an adulterous affair would not be a sin against you, so this passage would not be applicable to that situation. But if he or she lies, cheats, or acts arrogantly toward you, then confrontation is necessary. Continue Reading →