Is This the Most Important Greek Textual Variant?
Revelation 14:9-11 says that if anyone takes the mark of the beast, that person will be tortured in fire and sulphur for ever and ever.
So it is very important not to get the mark. But how will it happen that people take the mark? Will it be forced on them by the beast, or will they give it to themselves / get it for themselves? Because of this question, I think that the textual variant below from Revelation 13:16 is the most important textual variant in the Bible.
In the first set of manuscripts, “they” are giving the mark. In the second set, with the Textus Receptus alone among the editions, “he,” that is, the beast, is giving the mark.
“they” Aleph A C P 046 82 94 141 172 175 181 241 256 367 424 459 469 616 627 792 920 922 986 2059 1611 1678 1732 1778 1828 1854 1862 1888 2019 2020 2026 2028 2048 2067 2070 2080 2081 2138 2256 2349 2351 2436 sahidic WH VS TG RC AT PK NA27 HF RP SBL
“he” 051 2053 2065 2302 2329 2814 TR
Download this chart in the Swanson style for the variant in 78 manuscripts and 11 editions.
KJV: “And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:”
NIV: He also forced everyone, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on his right hand or on his forehead,
NASB: And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead,
DRP: And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free and the slave, to provide themselves a mark on their right upper limb or on their forehead,
Rev. 14:9-11: And another angel, a third one, followed those, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and takes the mark on his forehead or on his hand, he shall himself also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, mixed undiluted in the cup of his anger, and he shall be tormented with fire and sulfur before the holy angels and before the Lamb. And the smoke of their torture goes up for ever and ever, and they have no relief day or night, those who worship the beast and the image of him, and anyone who takes the mark of his name.”
I have received criticism of my rendering of this verse. Here is a copy of some of that discussion, from a discussion board:
Critic: “Surely the unmentioned subject of the plural verb δωσιν does not refer to those included in παντας, but rather is generic, namely, ‘He makes it so that they (generic) should give all a mark on their right hand or forehead,’ hence why most translations simply say ‘receive’ instead of the unnecessarily wooden-literal translation.”
Rev. 13:16 καὶ ποιεῖ πάντας, τοὺς μικροὺς καὶ τοὺς μεγάλους, καὶ τοὺς πλουσίους καὶ τοὺς πτωχούς, καὶ τοὺς ἐλευθέρους καὶ τοὺς δούλους, ἵνα δῶσιν αὐτοῖς χάραγμα ἐπὶ τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῶν τῆς δεξιᾶς ἢ ἐπὶ τὸ μέτωπον αὐτῶν,
Let me get this straight. You are saying that ποιεῖ, 3rd person singular, should be rendered “He makes it,” where there is no Greek word present for “it.” So you supply an object for the verb. And you are saying that δῶσιν, 3rd person plural, which means “they give,” agrees in grammatical concord with an un-named subject you supply, rather than agrees with the 3rd person plural πάντας, which immediately and naturally follows our verb ποιεῖ.
So, you are supplying both an unwritten object, and an unwritten subject. All in one sentence!
Call me unreasonable, but how is this “surely”? I don’t see anything sure about it.
If you truly honestly believe that that is what the Greek means, then you should write that in your translation, like this, “And he makes it so that they give everyone a mark…” That isn’t so wooden. But literal it certainly is not. That would be very far from literal.
And I want to state, in case some readers don’t know, that the pronoun αὐτοῖς can and often does mean “themselves” as in ἑαυτοῖς. There is a contraction in the Greek of that time for ἑαυτοῖς as follows : αὑτοῖς. Notice the difference between αὐτοῖς and αὑτοῖς? There is a huge difference. The first has a smooth breathing mark, so it means “them,” and the second has a rough breathing mark, so it means “themselves.” Reflexive meaning. But the earliest Greek manuscripts did not necessarily always have breathing marks and punctuation. One of the most common Greek textual variants in Revelation, about which I am very knowledgeable by the way, and won’t apologize for it, is this confusion between αὐτός and αὑτός in the minuscules.
I thus find it easy to defend my rendering of this verse in my translation of Revelation. Your defense on the other hand of “most translations” is a great example of why I do not trust “most translations,” and am doing my own.
To download my translation of the Revelation of John, use this link.
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