Matthew chapter 25 verse 6 variant

There is a variant in the Greek manuscripts of the gospel of Matthew, chapter 25 verse 6, where the Majority text reads, “Look! The bridegroom is coming,” while the NA28 reads, “Look! The bridegroom.”  So the NA28 text lacks the word ερχεται, “is coming.”  Then after that, in both texts, the next Greek word is also a form of the word “come,” εξερχεσθε, and says “Come out to meet him.”

νυμφιος ερχεται C³ E W Σ Φ latt syr-p,h arm Chrys TR RP νυμφιος ℵ B C* D L Z cop-sa Cyr SBL TH NA28 {\} lac A N P 0233 0281

What I found that is significant, is that the scribe of Codex D, Codex Bezae, first wrote εξερχεται, which is only two letters different than ερχεται, just adding εξ to it, “out,” but then he omitted εξερχεσθε that is supposed to follow that according to all manuscripts.  He seems to have gotten confused by the similarity of the two words.  Here is a snip from the image of Codex D.

Matthew 25:6 in Codex D

So in view of the problem the scribe of Codex D had, I changed my Greek text to that of the Majority text, adding ερχεται, “the bridegroom is coming.”  Because I find this to be an explanation as to how the variant arose, how ερχεται dropped out of text streams.  In other words, the most important question in textual criticism is, which variant best explains the rise of the others?

Where Swanson is Correct

I have pointed out lately a few places where Reuben Swanson’s apparatus has been incorrect, so now I will be fair and point out a place where I think Swanson is correct and the NA28 apparatus is not.

In Matthew chapter 22 verse 30 there is a variant where most manuscripts say “are like the angels of God in heaven,” but some mss. say only “are like the angels in heaven.” (As does the parallel passage in Mark 12:25.) It is the difference between:
ὡς ἀγγελοι τοῦ θεοῦ εν ουρανῶ εισιν and
ὡς ἀγγελοι εν ουρανῶ εισιν.

Swanson’s apparatus says the original reading of Codex E (07) did not have the words τοῦ θεοῦ “of God” and then a corrector (possibly the original scribe himself) rubbed out the original writing and added those words. The NA28 apparatus, however, does not indicate that the manuscript has been corrected there. I think Swanson is right here. Here is a snip of the manuscript:

Note that in the second half of the second line, the words ΤΟΥ ΘY̅ ƐΝ ΟY̅ΝW̅ ƐΙCΙΝ are smaller and fainter than all the other letters. This means the scribe had to shrink the rest of the words on the line in order to fit ΤΟΥ ΘY̅ in the line without having to correct the next line as well. As long as we are here, if you have not seen “nomina sacra” before, here we have two of them. The genitive form of the word θΕΟΣ, ΘΕΟΥ is shortened to ΘY̅ with a line above it. And the dative form for the word for heaven, ΟΥΡΑΝΟΣ, ΟΥΡΑΝW, is shortened to ΟY̅ΝW̅ with two overlines. These are called “nomina sacra” and they did this also for the words Jesus, Christ, David, Holy Spirit, and sometimes for Jerusalem and other words.

Good Repentant Pharisees in Codex Bezae

In the gospel of Matthew chapter 21, verse 32, Jesus is talking to the Pharisees and scribes, and tells them,

“For John came to you with the way of righteousness, and you did not believe in him.  The revenue agents and prostitutes, however, did believe in him.  And you, when you saw that, did not subsequently have a change of heart and believe in him.”

However, some manuscripts say that the Pharisees DID subsequently have a change of heart and believe in him, that is, they omit the word “not” or “neither”:

21:32 txt ου “not” ℵ C E L W 𝔐 Or Chrys TR RP ουδε “not even; neither” B Σ Φ 0102 0233 lat syr-c,p,h eth Hil SBL TH NA28 omit D it-e,ff¹* syr-s  lac A N P Z 0281. 

I looked at the image of Codex D, and found several interesting things, and I made a snip of the manuscript, posted here.

First, the scribe of Codex D appears to have accidentally omitted the negative particle because of the fact that the two words before it and after it were the last word in the line in the column and then the first word in the next line: ιδοντες <> μετεμεληθητε. In this image, EΙΔΟΝΤΕC “when you saw,” is on the 4th line as the last word. Then next is where the negative particle ου was supposed to be. Then the 5th line at the left side of the column picks up with ΜΕΤΕΜΕΛΗΘΗΤΕ. So the scribe overlooked the small word ου because of the line break. This is not an uncommon occurrence in the Greek New Testament. This accidental error is a type of “parablepsis.”

I also noticed that our scribe changed the length of his lines so that he could start 5 lines in a row with the word ΚΑΙ, which you can see on lines 9-13. He also seems to have lengthened a couple lines above that, so that he could end 2 lines with the same words, EPISTEΥCATAIAUTW.

Matthw 21:30-35 approximately

Change of Reading to Byz

As I am making my Robinson-Pierpont edition of the gospel of Matthew, I am editing my eclectic edition here and there. During this process I found a Byzantine reading that I think is the original text rather than what I previously had in my eclectic text and is found in the NA28.

Matt 21:25 παρ εαυτοις ℵ C D E W Σ Φ 0102 0233 𝔐 TR RP TH εν εαυτοις B L Z Cyr SBL NA28 {\} lac A N P 0281.

The reading with παρ has strong support.  I immediately thought that since εν εαυτοις is a very common phrase in the gospels, and παρ εαυτοις is not, it is far more likely that scribes would write εν εαυτοις automatically unconsciously, than the other way around.  So I changed my text to the παρ εαυτοις reading, and this was before I looked up the Tyndale House reading and saw that they follow that reading.  The preposition παρα with the dative case answers the question “where.”  They were “by” themselves, which implies separation for privacy; thus, “away by themselves.” You can download my eclectic edition of Matthew’s gospel here.

Codex Basilensis in Swanson

The New Testament Greek Manuscripts series by Reuben Swanson is a very valuable work, and an amazing one. What a huge task he did! I am grateful for it. In such a large and complex work, there are bound to be errors.

The uncial E (07), Codex Basilensis, is a 6th century Greek manuscript of the four gospels of the New Testament. Because it is complete for those books, and relatively ancient, makes it important. However, it is not cited in the critical apparatus of the NA28. It is cited in Swanson, but only when it differs from the BYZ group.

Because of this lack of citation, this manuscript is one whose reading I often look up personally on the Uni-Münster site images. No transcription is available; I look at the photographs of the manuscript itself and find the readings in it.

I should probably keep a log of the errors I find in Swanson’s work touching Codex E. The latest is in Matthew chapter 20 verse 21. The mother of James and John, wife of Zebedee, is asking Jesus that he decree that her two sons sit one on his right and one on his left in his kingdom. The possessive pronoun σου, “your,” is not found in every manuscript following both right and left, ie., “on your right and your left.” Swanson’s apparatus says that Codex E omits the second σου, joining the Textus Receptus against the majority and the NA28. However, this is not correct. Codex E contains both instances of σου, as can be seen in this snip from the image of the manuscript.

Matthew 20:21 in Codex Basilensis (E, 07)

Matthew chapter 20 verse 15 variant

What is going on here in Matthew 20:15? The Majority text reads:

Ἢ οὐκ ἔξεστίν μοι ποιῆσαι ὃ θέλω ἐν τοῖς ἐμοῖς; Εἰ ὁ ὀφθαλμός σου πονηρός ἐστιν, ὅτι ἐγὼ ἀγαθός εἰμι;

Here are the two significant variants in the verse, showing only witnesses 8th century and earlier:

η ουκ…ει ο οφθαλμος lat Chrysostom TR RP η ουκ…η ο οφθαλμος ℵ C E N W Σ Φ 085 syr-p,h cop-sa TH [NA28] ουκ…η ο οφθαλμος B* D L Z SBL ουκ…ει ο οφθαλμος B² ‖ lac A P 0233 0281. 

All the witnesses above except B D L Z SBL begin the sentence with the Greek word Ἢ, “or.” Then the TR and Majority text for the second variant read ει, a marker for a direct question. What I am pointing out is that none of the English translations based on the Majority reading translate the word Ἢ as “or.”

BUT, neither do the English translations based on the second reading, which has the Greek word η for both variants, neither do they appear to render their text as it is found.

Practically none of the English translations translate the first η as “or.” 

The translations supposedly based on the TR / Majority text, at first seem to read as the Vaticanus corrector. (ουκ…ει ο οφθαλμος B²). The English translations from the Syriac, the Etheridge and Murdock translations, also seem to read as B².

The EMTV, “English Majority Text Version, reads as the SBL text.

We have seen that none of the English translations translate the first η as “or.”  But they are probably not following the reading of B* D L Z Θ SBL. The BDF grammar in Sec. 440 (3) says a simple interrogative ἦ does not exist in the NT.  In Sec. 440 (1) DeBrunner gives four examples in the NT of “simple interrogative ἤ,” Matt. 20:15, 26:53; 1 Cor. 9:8; 2 Cor. 11:7.  This must be how the first η is being interpreted.

Crowd versus Crowds

As I make my Byzantine edition of Matthew’s gospel, I get annoyed sometimes by the numerousness of variants that are meaningless in the Greek manuscripts and even in the editions thereof. Matthew chapter 15 verse 36 is a good example, in which there are a half dozen unimportant variants.

One that is actually amazing to me is that the word for crowd, οχλος, is plural in the NA28 but singular in the Robinson-Pierpont, yet in the previous verse, v. 35, they switch, and οχλος is singular in the NA28 and plural in the RP! Both verses are talking about the same crowd and occasion.

15:35 τοις οχλοις E F G H K L M N P S U V W X Γ Δ Π Σ Φ 0233 2 118 565 700 1071 𝔐 it-a,d,e,f,k,q syr-c,p cop-bo Hil TR RP τους οχλους C 892c 1424 τω οχλω ℵ B D Θ ƒ¹ ƒ¹³ 33 157 346 579 788 892* it-b,ff¹,f²,g¹,g²,l vg syr-h cop-sa-mss,mae,bo-mss arm eth Or SBL TH NA28 {\} lac A Q Z 0281 28 69.

15:36 τω οχλω C D E F G H N P S U W X Γ Δ Θ Σ Φ 2 118 565 1071 1424 𝔐 it> vg cop-sa-mss,mae arm Chr TR RP τοις οχλοις ℵ B K L M Π ƒ¹ ƒ¹³ 33 157 238 243 346 579 700 788 it-e,f,ff¹ syr cop-sa-ms,bo SBL TH NA28 {\} ‖ lac A Q Z 0233 0281 28 69. 

I offer a few observations: 1.) The plural is maintained in both by L M Π 700 syr-c,p cop-bo.  (2.) The singular is maintained in both by arm.  I would not begrudge any translator rendering all these as a singular.  (3.) This may demonstrate how insignificant the singular v. plural of οχλος is.

Current Activities

Though I still have a job doing something I don’t want to do, I now have a little more spare time than I did the last few years. Also, I moved to the state of Florida. I am currently working on 3 projects at once:

1.) Revising and updating my translation of the Apocalypse of John, or the Book of Revelation. My original edition I did about 15 years ago, and it still refers to the UBS4 and NA27. I am updating the GNT editions cited to include the SBL and Tyndale House editions, and of course UBS5 and NA28, as well as the BG, family 35 and Antoniades here and there. In addition, I am eliminating the accentuation of the Greek in the textual variant footnotes, since the direction of the accents would be technically incorrect when outside of the sentence and punctuation of the actual Bible text, and the early manuscripts did not contain them. This is what the Nestle-Aland editions do in their footnotes. This is all in preparation for publishing on Amazon.

2. Revising and updating my translation of the gospel of Matthew, since, again, my original was done 20 years ago or more, and I have learned much since then, and also become less closed to the Byzantine text stream. Like with Revelation, I am adding citation to the SBL and TH editions, but also adding many more textual variants in comparison to the Robinson-Pierpont text, as I am simultaneously creating a Robinson-Pierpont (RP) edition. This is all in preparation for publishing on Amazon.

3. Still slowly translating the Acts of the Apostles, currently in chapter 25.