Tag Archives: textual criticism

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

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.

Pericope Adulterae GA2220

Life for a scribe was hard before computers and typewriters. In this 12th century manuscript, minuscule 2220, (picture below) which resides in the Limonos Monastery in Lesbos, the scribe was copying and writing the Pericope of the Adulteress section of the gospel of John. In the first page you can see the end of John 7:52, ἴδε ὅτι προφήτης ἐκ τῆς Γαλιλαίας οὐκ ἐγήγερται – “see that there is no prophet risen out of Galilee.” Then next he wrote John 8:1, Ἰησοῦς δὲ ἐπορεύθη εἰς τὸ ὄρος τῶν Ἐλαιῶν – “But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.”

Then, he realized that he had skipped John 7:53.  And so he erased what he had written on the rest of the folio, and started the next folio with John 7:53, και απηλθεν εκαστος εις τον οικον αυτου “and each went to his own home.” (the Antoniades, Hodges and Farstad, Pickering reading.)  The scribe thought, and I would agree, that starting on a new page was preferable to writing over erased text.

Now why did he skip John 7:53 in the first place?  Some other MSS did also, some of them clearly because of homoioteleuton or homoioarcton.  Because 7:53 is each departing to their own home, and 8:1 is Jesus departing to the Mount of Olives.  Scribes skipped from επορευθη to επορευθη, or from απηλθεν to απηλθεν.  In the case of GA 2220 here, he could have had more than one exemplar, and one had επορευθη and another had απηλθεν. Manuscripts 295 and 2411 also skip 7:53, 2411 from επορευθη to επορευθη.

Papyrus 39 John Variant

In John 8:14 there is a textual variant between Η in the NA28 versus ΚΑΙ in the Byzantine text:

ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐκ οἴδατε πόθεν ἔρχομαι  Η ποῦ ὑπάγω

ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐκ οἴδατε πόθεν ἔρχομαι, ΚΑΙ ποῦ ὑπάγω.

Now concerning Papyrus 39, the Münster Institute and the NA28 say 𝔓³⁹ reads Η, while the IGNTP says it reads ΚΑΙ.  The NA28 does not even put a “vid” with it.  But only the right edge of the last letter of the word is visible to me.  It is rounded, not a straight up and down line like it would be for H or I. But the scribe’s Epsilon is round, and it seems more likely to be an E than Η or I, thus perhaps ΟΥΔΕ.  Is the theory that there is only room there for one letter, like H?  However, it certainly does not look like an H. (Image posted below, the 2nd line ΠΟΥ ΥΠΑ with the letter in question barely visible before that.)

The NA28 text in English is “but you do not know where I came from or where I am going.”
The Byz text in English is “but you do not know where I came from and where I am going.”
𝔓³⁹ if ΟΥΔΕ in English is “but you do not know where I came from nor where I am going.”

Papyrus 39, John 8:14

John Chapter 3 Verse 15

I am working on publishing my Robinson-Pierpont edition of the Gospel of John. I am adding a footnote in all editions regarding John 3:15, as follows:

εν αυτω                                                     εχη           𝔓⁷⁵ B Wsupp 083 0141 SBL TH NA28
εις αυτον                                                   εχη          ℵ 086
επ αυτω                                                     εχη          𝔓⁶⁶ L
[εν αυτω]                                                   εχη          𝔓³⁶
εν αυτω       μη απωληται       αλλ          εχη          T
επ αυτον     μη απολ___         αλλ          εχη          A*
επ αυτον      μη απολητε         αλλ          εχη          A²vid
εις αυτον     μη αποληται        αλλ          εχη          𝔓⁶³ G K N U Δ Θ Π 063 TR RP
εις αυτον     μη αποληται        αλλ          εχει         E F H S Y Λ Ψ Ω 047 0211
εις αυτον     μη αποληται        αλλ          ε__           V
εις αυτον     μη απωληται       αλλ          εχη          Γ
εις αυτον     μη απωληται       αλλ          εχει         M
lac           C D P X 070 0233

In order to say “believe in him,” John usually writes εις αυτον, so εν αυτω was probably original, and scribes unconsciously wrote the familiar εις αυτον.  Now, since εν αυτω is not usual for John for “believe in him,” it is possible that the text with εν αυτω means, “so that everyone who believes, may have eternal life in him.”

Revelation Apocalypse in Print

I have published the Apocalypse of John in paper and ink:

• large size – 8.25 x 11 inches
• large font – 12 point font
• 168 pages
• 518 footnotes
• 82 endnotes
• 3 tables
• Bargain price! $7.59, €6.93

A new English translation from the ancient Greek, the English text alternating verse by verse with the Greek text; with footnotes pertaining to translation issues and pertaining to Greek textual variants.  This latter “critical apparatus” cites 86 Greek manuscripts,  6 Greek New Testament editions, as well as early versions and Fathers.  The editions collated are the NA28, SBL, TH (Tyndale House), Robinson-Pierpont, Byzantine Greek, Antoniades, and the Textus Receptus.  When the dozens of editions of the Textus Receptus disagree, this is noted.  At the end of the book are several tables, including a list of all  handwritten Greek manuscripts of the Apocalypse of John.

1 Timothy 3 Verse 16

There is a famous Greek textual variant in 1 Timothy 3:16, where the “critical text,” SBL TH NA28 reads

 Ὃς ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί  “Who/he was manifested in the flesh.” (relative pronoun)

and the “majority text,” TR RP reads

θεὸϛ ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί  “God was manifested in the flesh.”

The difference originally in the most ancient manuscripts was much less clear in appearance.  Because there was a custom of contracting or abbreviating sacred names and concepts, by shortening them to fewer letters and putting a line over the whole group of letters, as can be seen in the correction in Codex Claromontanus (D- 06).  (These contractions were called “Nomina Sacra” or NS for short.)  Observe that the two-letter NS for God ΘΕΟC, which is just ΘC with a line over it, as seen in the correction of Codex Claromontanus, looks very similar to the relative pronoun OC in Codex Sinaiticus.  Note that Sinaiticus did not have an overline originally, and a late third hand made a correction toward the majority text.

What could have contributed to the problem is that scribes such as the one for Codex A used a caligraphy type pen tip, which was wide in a down stroke and very thin in a horizontal stroke. Thus the cross-bar in the capital letter Theta, Θ, could be very faint and therefore look like a capital Omicron, Ο.

Codex Claromontanus (D – 06) below:

Codex Sinaiticus (01) below:

Codex Alexandrinus (02) below: