Category Archives: Textual Criticism

Timing of Baptism

The apostles and prophets gave us teaching by example on the topic of the timing of baptism. We find in the book of the Acts of the Apostles that believing the gospel and getting baptized are closely associated.

Acts 2:38– And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized each one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
Acts 2:41- The ones therefore who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand souls were added during that day.

Other passages in Acts showing immediate baptism are 8:12; 8:36-38; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:14-15; 16:32-33; 18:8. You were expected to be baptized at the same time as you believed, they are a simultaneous event.

Take for example the Philippian jailer, when he believed, he was baptized “on the spot…in the middle of the night.” (Acts 16:31-34).

In Acts 8:13 Simon the magician was baptized by the apostles even though they knew his heart was not right. But he had professed belief, so he had to be baptized immediately, that is true doctrine and practice.

This doctrine of immediate baptism is so important, that God performed a miracle for the Ethiopian eunuch. In Acts 8:26, the scripture tells us that the road he was on was desert. Yet as soon as the eunuch believed, they saw a body of water deep enough for both Philip and the eunuch to get down into it and the eunuch be baptized. (Acts 8:36)

Have you believed, but are not yet baptized? If so, you are in disobedience to the apostles of Christ, and your leaders are in disobedience, who have neglected to baptize you immediately upon your profession. Satan, the enemy of your soul, wants you to have a cooling down period.

Am I saying that, if say, a man leads 3 people to belief in the gospel on Thursday, that he should not wait until the next Sunday to baptize them? Exactly! I am saying that if he led someone to the Lord during lunch break at work on Thursday, the convert should tell his boss he is leaving his job temporarily in order to find water to be baptized that Thursday afternoon, baptized by the believer who told him the gospel. What a powerful testimony that is, that you drop everything else going on in order to find water and be baptized. You are now dead to the world, so what else matters? Find water, and show everyone that you died and were buried with Christ, and have come out in newness of life, and nothing else matters. Do not allow anything or any human to let you cool down from your first love.

This truth about the timing of baptism has bearing on a couple textual variants in the Greek New Testament text. The biggest one is in Acts 8:37, where it was added to the narrative of the Ethiopian eunuch, where the eunuch had asked, “Look, water. Is there anything forbidding me to be baptized?” Then an addition was made later to the text which says, 37″And Philip said, ‘If you believe with all your heart, it is permissible.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ “

Similar is an addition made to Acts 2:41. Papyrus 74, Codex Sinaiticus, Codices A, B and C, Sahidic Coptic, the Ethiopic, Clement, and Eusebius read: “The ones therefore who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand souls were added during that day.”

But later manuscripts read: “The ones therefore who READILY accepted his message were baptized…”But this “readiness” was not for the baptizers to judge. If the person accepted the message and professed belief, they were to be baptized, period.

The bishops had later decided that there should be some kind of “probationary period” to see whether the convert was serious or not. They also made baptism something only “clergy” could perform, but this is not indicated by the example and teaching of the apostles.

At the same time, since believing the gospel and baptism are closely connected, it is not appropriate for an infant to be baptized since the infant is not capable of believing the gospel and repenting of his/her sins.

Revelation 1 verse 8

I discovered an error in my footnote to Revelation 1:8. I had manuscript GA 2074 reading as the Textus Receptus, omitting QEOS, but that is not correct. I have now corrected the footnote, and added the variant to my endnote Nr. 4 about singular TR readings. I have also added the readings of some very late MSS that agree with the TR. You can download the corrected Revelation PDF here, and I also corrected the Revelation printed paper and ink edition on Amazon.

Textual Variant Acts ch 26 v 4

Here is a Greek textual variant in Acts chapter 26 verse 4 which makes a large difference in meaning, even though the variant is one two-letter word:

txt εν τε “and also in” 𝔓⁷⁴ ℵ A B E 181 1175 2464 vg-ms syr-hms Chrys SBL TH ECM ‖ εν “in” C H L P Ψ 049 056 33 1611 1735 1739 1891 Byz it-e vg syr-hms Chrys TR RP ‖ lac 𝔓²⁹ 𝔓¹¹² 048 096.

The problem with translations made from the Byzantine Greek text not containing τε is that they are saying Paul’s life was spent in Jerusalem from the beginning, when in fact his country was Cilicia, in the city of Tarsus (Acts 9:11; 21:3923:34).  In fact in court hearings, it was always determined that Paul’s country legally was Cilicia, see Acts 23:34. Paul himself said he was a citizen of Tarsus, but Israel he consistently called his
“nation” not his country or citizenship. This variant takes place in a court setting, so Byz advocates cannot argue that Paul’s country was Jerusalem.

There isn’t any way to translate the majority text that can make it accurate or acceptable, as you can see in the following English translations based on the Byzantine text:

(KJV)  My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;

(NKJV)  My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know.

(EMTV)  Therefore my way of life from my youth, which from the beginning was spent among my own nation in Jerusalem, all the Jews know,

Majority text advocates say that an accidental dropping out of short words or a few letters is far more likely than them being added.  So here you go, majority text advocates, the little word τε probably accidentally dropped out of your line of transmission.  So thank God for Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus which sometimes have a more accurate Greek text than does the majority text. 

Here is my translation from the correct Greek text:

(DRP) My manner of life since youth therefore, which took place at first in my own country and also in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews.

James Snapp versus John MacArthur

David Robert Palmer’s response to James Snapp’s document: “Snapp-MACARTHUR-BAD-ENDING-Dec-2023.doc” which Snapp sent to him personally and asked him to read.  I read it, January 27, 2024, and made this document in response.  The paper is about MacArthur’s beliefs about Mark 16:9-20 versus Snapp’s beliefs. I made a PDF of Snapp’s document and you can download that PDF here.  The title of Snapp’s document in the Word properties window is “JOHN MACARTHUR LIAR.”

p. 5, Snapp wrote: “If John is going to say that the Holy Spirit preserved the Scripture in its pure state through all history, how can he turn around and reject these twelve verses?”

Palmer: For textual criticism reasons, like any other variant.  Not everything preserved by the bishops and scribes is scripture.

p. 6, Snapp wrote: “John, you can’t have it both ways:  either the Holy Spirit kept the Scriptures in a pure state, or else the Holy Spirit allowed thousands and thousands of manuscripts in Greek, Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic were contaminated by twelve verses that the Holy Spirit did not want to be in the text of the Gospel of Mark.”

Palmer: These two options stated by Snapp are no different than in the situation of any other textual variant.  Yes, clearly the Holy Spirit did allow the scriptures to be contaminated, that’s why we have textual variants, and textual critics trying to ascertain the authorial texts.  The Holy Spirit also allowed religious leaders to set aside the Word of God in order to set up their own traditions of men. We do not need to take heed to that kind of men.

p. 6, Snapp wrote: ” Once the premise is accepted that the Holy Spirit has providentially preserved the purity of Scripture for the church in all ages,”

Palmer: I imagine MacArthur’s view of this is the same as mine: The Holy Spirit did preserve the pure text of Mark 16 in Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, plus in all the other manuscripts in any era and any age, which did not include the Longer Ending of Mark.  REMEMBER, there were dark ages when the regular people had no access to any written form of the word of God at all, but that was the fault of the type of high-church “bishops” whom Snapp trusts to have preserved the Word of God for us!

p. 9 Snapp wrote: “and you will see that over 99.9% of these manuscripts support including Mark 16:9-20.”

Palmer: That is, 99.9% of all currently existing manuscripts.  But as MacArthur knows, Eusebius indicates that the majority of manuscripts in his day did not contain the Longer Ending of Mark.  And in the 5th century, Victor of Antioch says that was still the case, that most manuscripts did not have it, and he and his colleagues set about the task of adding the Longer Ending of Mark to the manuscripts.  Snapp knows this, or should know.

Snapp next rebuts some minor points of MacArthur that do not pertain to Mark in particular, so I will skip ahead.

p. 13, Snapp clarifies what “oldest manuscripts mean” and says the Dead Sea Scrolls are older, etc.  Well this is not relevant because we all know MacArthur meant the oldest manuscripts which contain the whole gospel of Mark.

p. 21, Snapp disagrees with MacArthur’s claim that one can reconstruct the entire NT text from quotations of the Fathers.  I don’t have an opinion on that.

p. 24, Snapp addresses preservation again, and my response would be the same as previously.

p. 25, Snapp asks “Did generation after generation of Vulgate-readers use a “bad ending”?  Did all the Greek-speaking Orthodox believers, gathering annually on Ascension-day, read 12 verses that the Holy Spirit did not want them to read?”

Palmer: I don’t know MacArthur’s answer to that, but my answer is “Yes.”  The “high church” denominations like the Roman Catholic church have many things that were added by the traditions of men, by “bishops” who granted themselves unwarranted authority, which I reject.

p. 25, Snapp:  Did the Reformers develop doctrine based on this passage that they never should have used? 

Palmer: I don’t know that the reformers based doctrine on the LE of Mark, but if they did, they should not have.

p. 37, Snapp says MacArthur says Irenaeus, Justin Martyr and Tatian showed knowledge of other endings.  Snapp says they did not.

Palmer: I do not know what MacArthur is basing his statement upon.  I don’t know that Snapp knows either, but Snapp proceeds to affirm that those men believed that the Longer Ending was scripture.  I cannot imagine that those men were unaware that there were manuscripts of Mark that did not have the Longer Ending.  I do not believe that they were unaware.  Since Eusebius and Victor were aware of this, why would the others not be aware of it.

Snapp ends his document by giving a long list of scholars and pastors and text books that state opinions about the evidence for this textual variant.  My impression is that Snapp is giving them as examples of misinformation.  But Snapp fails to say which fact from these quotations are in error according to him, and therefore which facts John MacArthur should not also be stating.  So this long section was really not helpful.

p. 42, Snapp says “Finally:  REPENT.  Stop spreading falsehoods about the ending of Mark.  If you need to become better-informed about Mark 16:9-20, I offer to you, and to each of the elders of Grace Community Church, a copy of my book, Authentic:  The Case for Mark 16:9-20 (Fourth Edition).”

Palmer: I do not think that anything MacArthur said warrants this level of rebuke.  He interprets the historical evidence differently than Snapp does, and granted might have made a few very minor mistakes based on outdated information, since he is quite advanced in age and had his training many decades ago.  But those are very minor and do not warrant this level of rebuke.

p. 92, Snapp says: “Be careful of what you say, John, lest on the day of judgment you come to a “bad ending.”  REPENT   and trust the word of God.  NOW

Palmer: To demand that John MacArthur “trust the Word of God” is ignoring the very point of controversy, that is, whether Mark 16:9-20 is the word of God.  I do not believe Mark 16:9-20 is the word of God, and I take it that MacArthur does not believe it is the word of God.  If anyone is in danger, I think it is the person who ADDED 16:9-20 to the word of God.  I agree with MacArthur that Mark 16:9-20 is a bad ending.  See my translation of Mark for my main reasons: https://bibletranslation.ws/trans/mark.pdf  

Snapp takes a lot of space giving places where church fathers quoted the Longer Ending of Mark as scripture.  This is not what is in dispute.  The question is, “should they have quoted Mark 16:9-20 as scripture?”  The answer is no.  I say that Snapp and others are in denial about the evidence found in the writings of Eusebius, Victor of Antioch, etc. that most manuscripts at that time did not contain the Longer Ending of Mark.  In view of that evidence, those church fathers should not have made any strong doctrinal assertions based on a passage that was clearly disputed.  Nor should we today.  I know, Snapp will respond that Eusebius could not know what all the manuscripts of Mark in the world said.  True enough, but he quoted people who said that most manuscripts did not have the LE, and he did not correct them on that.  It was apparently common knowledge.

I also want to say that John MacArthur is to be commended for not closing his church during “Covid.”  On the day of Judgment, I believe most pastors in America will have cause to be ashamed that they let a mayor or governor or president use false authority to get them to close their churches.  This latter is relevant because it is also a question of authority true authority versus false authority.  We must have spiritual discernment from God in order to discern truth from error.

This document by Palmer can be downloaded as a PDF here. https://bibletranslation.ws/down/Palmer-Response-to-Snapp-RE-MacArthur.pdf
One of the sermons given by John MacArthur, containing the points which Snapp rebuts, is found in this 12 year old video by John MacArthur entitled “The Fitting End to Mark’s Gospel (Mark 16:9-20)” here: https://youtu.be/NmudwnVPQ7A
The document by Snapp here. https://bibletranslation.ws/down/Snapp-MACARTHUR-BAD-ENDING-Dec-2023.pdf
David Robert Palmer’s translation of the gospel of Mark with a long endnote discussing Mark 16:9-20: https://bibletranslation.ws/trans/mark.pdf

Mark’s Gospel 2nd Edition ECM-NA29

Gospel of Mark, 2nd Editions are uploaded.  I have updated my editions of Mark’s gospel to reflect the Editio Critica Major (ECM) data in my footnotes about textual variants.  I also made a few changes to my translation and endnotes. Thus my footnotes give the readings of the ECM, like this one for Mark 9:29:

9:29 txt προσευχῇ καὶ νηστείᾳ “prayer and fasting” ℵ² A C* D E F G H K L N W X Δ (τῇ νηστείᾳ) Θ Π Σ Φ Ψ ƒ¹ ƒ¹³ 28 33 118 157 180 205 565 579 597 700 892 1006 1009 1010 1071* 1079 1195 1216 1230 1241 1242 1243 1253 1292 1342 1344 1365 1424 1505 1546 1646 2148 2174 𝔐 Lect it-a,aur,b,c,d,f,ff²,i,l,q,r¹ vg syr-h cop-sa,bo goth geo2 slav Diatessarona,p Basil TR RP TH ECM= νηστείᾳ καὶ προσευχῇ “fasting and prayer” (cf. I Cor. 7:5) syr-s,p,pal cop-boms arm eth προσευχῇ “prayer” ℵ* B 0274 it-k geo¹ Clement SBL ECM= lac 𝔓⁴⁵ P 067 0233.

Note that there are two readings that are supported by ECM=.  The = sign means that the ECM editors give it a “split primary line” or, that they consider those two readings of equal weight.

Unfortunately, there was an error in my first edition of Byzantine Mark.  In the verse above, I had failed to change the English text in that I failed to add “and fasting” to the English translation.  This is now corrected in both the electronic and printed versions.  And as I said above, there are also a few changes in the translation and in the endnotes.

The printed Robinson-Pierpont 2nd edition of Mark may be purchased here.  And its Kindle version. The Eclectic Gospel of Mark printed 2nd edition may be purchased here. The PDF of the 2nd edition of Byzantine Mark may be downloaded here.

Acts 5 Hidden Text

What TC term do we use for this kind of missing text? It’s not really a lacuna, but rather a binding issue. In Acts 5:15 in Codex E it reads και εν ταις πλατ___ because the rest of the word is hidden in the binding gutter of the codex/book. Muenster says it reads πλατειας and Swanson πλατειαις. (When I publish a book with Amazon, I am very generous with gutter size, because I don’t want to get anywhere near this problem. I want people to be able to place my book on a copier and be able to copy it without pressing too hard and ruining the binding, and also so that no text is obscured or distorted by the falling away of the gutter.)

Acts Ch 4 Verse 12 Variant

Acts 4:12

υπο τον ουρανον το δεδομενον εν ανθρωποις ℵ A B E Ψ 0165 33 181 1175 1739 1891 Chrys Cyr TR AT BG SBL TH NA29 {/}

υπο τον ουρανον το δεδομενον ανθρωποις D¹

υπο τον ουρανον ο δεδομενον ανθρωποις D*

το δεδομενον εν ανθρωποις υπο τον ουρανον 1611 syr-h

το δεδομενον εν ανθρωποις P 049 056 RP

lac 𝔓⁷⁴ C H L

The Robinson-Pierpont text omits the phrase υπο τον ουρανον “under heaven.” There is no footnote about this even in the NA28. Is this a case of homoioteleuton, νον to νον? In Acts, I generally go against the Nestle-Aland text when all the earliest minuscules are against it. But here, they, 33 181 1175 1611 1739 1891, are all with it, and against the Robinson-Pierpont text. The RP text does not even have the Harklean Syriac this time. Nor are the Textus Receptus and the Antoniades Greek patriarchal text with it.

Acts 27 verse 19

I am translating Acts chapter 27. In verse 18 it says that, because of being in a violent storm, they lightened the ship by throwing stuff overboard. Then in verse 19 it says they threw stuff overboard “with their own hands.” But wait, whose hands were doing the ship lightening in verse 18 then?

Was it because of this very problem that the Byz text of verse 19 has the main verb in the 1st person, to differentiate the actors from verse 18? So the Byz text says “WE threw the ship’s equipment overboard with our own hands.”

Who is “we”? Paul, Luke and Aristarchus?

Then again even later, in verse 38, the crew throws cargo overboard to lighten the ship.

Some possibilities I see are:

  1. The Byz text changed the verb in v. 19 to the 1st person in order to eliminate the seeming nonsense described above.
  2. The 𝔓⁷⁴ ℵ A B C text wrote the verse 19 verb in the 3rd person by unconscious assimilation to the 3rd person verbs in the preceding verse.
  3. A long shot, but perhaps the original text in v. 18 had the violent storm itself causing the cargo to fly off the ship, and then in v. 19 the crew starting throwing stuff off with their own hands.

Acts 27:19 txt ερριψαν 𝔓⁷⁴ ℵ A B C 33 181 1175 1739 1891 2464 latt cop SBL TH NA29 {\} ερριψαμεν L Ψ 049 056 1611 𝔐 syr eth Chrys TR RP lac 𝔓⁴⁵ 𝔓¹¹² D E H.

Read Acts so far here: https://bibletranslation.ws/acts.html