Tag Archives: textual criticism

Simon the Zealot or Canaanite?

In Mark 3:18 and Matthew 10:4, the the King James Bible has Simon as a Canaanite.  However, in Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13, the KJV has Simon as a Zealot.  These are not really compatible to be mutually co-existent, since Jesus would not have appointed a Gentile to be one of the Twelve, or one of the names on the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:14.  In teh Matthew passage, in the very next verse, Matt. 10:5, Jesus tells the twelve not to go down any Gentile road, but to go “only to the lost sheep of Israel.”  Jesus surely would not tell a Gentile that.  Moreover, since the KJV admits that Simon was a zealot, this is also unlikely, that a Gentile would be a Zealot, one of the factions of Judaism.  The earliest manuscripts of Matthew and Mark say Simon was a καναναῖος, which word was derived from the Aramaic word for Zealot.  And the Textus Receptus and the Byzantine text have Simon a Κανανίτης.  Strong’s Concordance for this word, G2581, says this word also is derived from קנּא kan-naw’, “Jealous.” Canaan in Greek consistently starts with the letter Χ :

Canaan (ie., Genesis 13:12) Χανααν; Canaanite: Χαναναίων (Genesis 10:18) Χαναναίους (Genesis 15:21)  And in the NT, for the Canaanite woman, Matt 15:22, Χαναναία

BDAG Lexicon: “Κανανίτης, ου, ὁ man from Cana, Cananite. Acc. to Strabo 14, 5, 14 one of the two Stoics named Athenodorus received this name to distinguish him fr. the other Ath.; ἀπὸ κώμης τινός (Cana near Tarsus) was added. Numerous mss. replace the apparently unintelligible Καναναῖος with this term.” Under Κανά it says the home of, “according to many, also of Simon, Mt 10:4 (s. Καναναῖος). – Heinz Noetzel, Christus und Dionysus ’60. – EDNT.BBHW II 926. M-M.”

The bottom line is that both variants apparently mean the same thing: someone from Cana.  The KJV saying Canaanite is simply rendered incorrectly in English.

I have updated my footnotes on the pertinent passages in Matthew and Mark.  They are linked for downloading.

2 Peter with Greek text

Announcing a new Greek-English diglot of 2nd Epistle of Peter, with TC footnotes citing 9 Greek editions: TR, Tregelles, Westcott-Hort, Antoniades, VonSoden, Robinson-Pierpont, Byzantine Greek New Testament (f35), SBL, and NA28/ECM2. And citing Greek MSS P72 P74 01 A B C K L P 044 048 049 0142 0156 0209 0247 5 33 307 623 665 1175 1241 1243 1448 1735 1739 1852 2298 2423 2464 2805.

TR edition cited is Stephens 1550, except in 3:7, where Stephens, Beza, Elzevir, Erasmus, and Scrivener are split.


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Collations of MSS 65 and 115

I have been adding manuscripts, minuscules, to my chart of the Pericope of the Adulteress and the Pericope of  the angel bathing in John.  The latest are GA 65, Harley MS 5776, XI century, and GA 115, Harley MS 5559, X century.

Interesting that 65 has asterisks next to the angel in the pool of Bethesda pericope.  In minuscule 115, on folio 260 verso, the text goes from John 7:52 skipping the Pericope, right to 8:12.  But then it goes back to John 7:53 and the Pericope!  It’s as if the copyist had an exemplar without the Pericope, then saw the Pericope in another exemplar, and proceeded to insert the Pericope.  I have added this data to the chart.

Royse and the Majority Text Enthusiasts

I’m working on my translation of the Epistle of James. I remind us all how we have constantly heard from Majority Text / Byzantine text enthusiasts about the Royse study on scribal habits, how scribes were more likely to drop a word than add a word. Okay, then, I expect the Majority Text / Byzantine text editors to add at least one or some of the following words back to their texts that are found in the NA28 text but not in theirs.

1:19 ESTW DE, MT has only ESTW
5:10 EN TWI, MT has only EN
5:11 ESTIN hO KURIOS, MT has only ESTIN

The NA28 has in fact moved a little toward the MT in this regard. For example, in James 2:14, older editions said only TI OFELOS, but now have agreed in the 28th edition with the MT as TI TO OFELOS. And in 2:15, older editions said only LEIPOMENOI, but the NA28 now says LEIPOMENOI WSIN like the MT. And in 4:10 added TOU. Three instances in James where the Nestle-Aland text moved closer to the Majority Text. But will the Majority Text / Byzantine Text-type enthusiasts ever budge? I’m not holding my breath. If it’s not in their favorite family of manuscripts, no amount of reason to the contrary ever suffices.

Most Important Greek Textual Variant

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.

Rev. 13:16

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.”

My response:

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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Grenfell & Hunt Hibeh Papyri

Uploaded: Grenfell and Hunt, the Hibeh Papyri Part 1

Edited with translations and notes. With Ten Plates.

“The papyri which form the subject of the present volume were obtained in the spring of 1902 from the Ptolemaic necropolis of El-Hibeh, partly by purchase, partly from our first excavations at that site, as is recorded in the Introduction. On p. 5 will be found an explanation of the remarkable fact that some of the literary papyri here edited belong to MSS. of which fragments were published by us in 1897. The papyri were, with one exception (no. 23), derived from mummy-cartonnage, and all belong to the third century B.C. …” Bernard P. Grenfell – Arthur S. Hunt.

You can download Grenfell and Hunt Hibeh Papyri here, or on my new Bible translation page.

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Ehrman and Wallace SMU Debate

A couple days ago I watched the DVD of the Ehrman and Wallace SMU debate on textual criticism.

The debate was between Bart D. Ehrman and Daniel B. Wallace. It took place at SMU, Southern Methodist University, in October 2011. I enjoyed it very much. Even though it was a debate, Ehrman’s opening statement of the problems and issues of the Greek New Testament text and manuscripts thereof, is a good introduction for most people who are unfamiliar with New Testament textual criticism. I gladly passed the DVD on to my 13 yr old son.

The two scholars agreed on most things, but Wallace believed that Erhman was too much of a skeptic as to whether the original New Testament text can be ascertained or reconstructed. The main issue of disagreement was about the question of how much corruption took place between the time of the original writing of the New Testament books, and the time of the earliest manuscripts we have of the New Testament.

Wallace said that in some classes which he teaches, he gives his students an excercise in textual criticism on a fictional document written by “Snoopy,” and that his students were successful in reconstructing the original text. For this reason, Wallace is optimistic that the New Testament text can be re-constructed as well.

Ehrman’s main concern was that the quality of the scribes or re-copiers of the manuscripts in the first 150 to 200 years after the originals, the “autographs,” the quality and skill and qualifications of those scribes appears to be very poor. For this reason, Ehrman fears that the text of the New Testament underwent severe changes and diffusion in those intervening years.

Wallace queried Ehrman once or twice, as if he was puzzled, as to which manuscripts exactly Ehrman was talking about that were done by unskilled scribes. This was surprising and puzzling itself, since Ehrman was perfectly clear that one such manuscript was Papyrus 66, produced around the year 200 C.E. I wish Wallace had addressed Ehrman’s issues with Papyrus 66.

Wallace majored on showing how relatively intact and ascertainable the manuscript evidence for the text of the NT is compared to Greek classical literature, and also compared to the texts of the historians of the Greco-Roman world. That if the academic world had the same standards for those historians, and the same degree of despair and skepticism about the TC of those documents, then they and all of us must conclude that we really cannot have confidence that we know the history of the world.

Ehrman objected that Wallace was evading Ehrman’s main area of concern- the years intervening the autographs and the first extant mss. of the New Testament, other documents notwithstanding. Wallace stated that the early Alexandrian scribes produced a high quality of text, and that though they were not qualified scribes in the narrow field of re-copying theological works like for example medieval monks, they were competent, according to evidence of their style and use of numbers, competent as public record scribes, as if they were accountants or lawyers or government officials.

Ehrman objected that Wallace was certain of his position that the original text can be reconstructed. Wallace countered that on the contrary, he was not 100% certain, but “relatively” certain. And that Ehrman was too extremely skeptical, a degree of sekpticism that is not realistically reasonable for practical living in this world, such as even knowing general history of our world and civilization.

Ehrman objected to the phrase “original text” and pointed out that the two centers of New Testament textual criticism, Birmingham and Münster, no longer use that term at all, but rather, the “ausgangstext.” Ehrman asked Wallace what the translation of that German term into English would be, and Wallace answered “exit.” (Many scholars now speak of the “source text.” By this is meant that text and the state thereof, from which the first extant copies of the Greek New Testament were copied “from” ablative. This is perhaps an indication that those scholars in those two places only hope to recover the generation of the text immediately preceding our first existing copies of the New Testament.

Both Ehrman and Wallace agreed that we simply do not know how many times the manuscripts of the New Testament were copied and re-copied prior to the first copies that do still exist.

This debate will certainly not satisfy those who believe that the New Testament text is certainly and perfectly preserved. Neither those who have an animus for the Alexandrian text stream. To the latter I would say, “Which is a greater act of preservation: to preserve for 1,200 years a manuscript that was written in 600-900 A.D., like most Byzantine manuscripts, or to preserve for 1,800+ years a manuscript written by Alexandrian scribes? If you profess to believe that God preserves his word, then clearly, he has preserved the Alexandrian manuscripts longer than the Byzantine manuscripts. If not God, then is Satan in the business of preserving the text of the New Testament? Some will actually say he is, that it is Satan that preserved the Alexandrian text in Egypt. Such people have a resulting animus for Egypt, forgetting that “out of Egypt I called my son.” God preserved his Son in Egypt from the dragon who was seeking to kill him. But soon after he was born, Jesus’ mother fled to the desert in Egypt, where Jesus, the “Word of God,” was preserved in Egypt from Satan.

This certainty of the text of the King James Version is an example of the two extremes which Wallace in the debate urges us to avoid. He said there are two extremes to avoid: over-certainty, like what King James Onlyists have, and hyper-skepticism, like what he believes Bart Ehrman has.

I observe how more transparent and real the situation is with the Greek New Testament text, than it is with the Hebrew Tanakh text, or especially with the Arabic text of the Qu’ran. With the Hebrew text, the Masoretes accomplished a “recension” of the text, a process by which they destroyed widely varying manuscripts of the text, and established an approved standard text which was exclusively copied from that time on, by order of the authorities of their religion. But we know from the text of the Septuagint and the Dead Sea Scrolls that there existed Hebrew manuscripts of the Tanakh that differed very much from the Masoretic text. Prior to a recension of the text of the Qu’ran, there existed thousands of copies of the Qu’ran, which were hand copied by households of means, for their own use. In that process, just like in the early transmission of the New Testament books, there were certainly mistakes made in the copying. At some point, all varying copies of the Qu’ran were burned, and one standardized text was decreed by order of the authorities of that religion. The fact of this Qu’ran recension is certainly taboo, but that does not create an atmosphere of learning the truth. (I learned this history of the Qu’ran from my friend Peyman Rafii, whose great uncle, Zarin Koub, was the world’s foremost Islam scholar at Baghdad University.)

As to whether there ever was a similar recension of the text of the New Testament, that is something to debate, but I would declare that if there was one, it was never as severe in the degree of destroying unapproved manuscripts, as were the recensions of the Hebrew Tanakh and the Arabic Qu’ran.

Ehrman and Wallace SMU Debate

See also in a matter related to the Ehrman and Wallace SMU Debate, my page on textual criticism.

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