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As a brief overview of versions, we have the Syriac versions (an Aramaic dialect) from the second century onward, the Latin versions with the Old Latin from the latter part of the second century onward. Eusebius Hieronymus, otherwise known as Jerome gave us a revision of the Old Latin version in 383 C.E. By the third century, the first translation of the Greek NT was published in Coptic. The Gothic version was produced during the fourth century. The Armenian version of the Bible dates from the fifth century and was likely made from both the Greek and Syriac texts. The Georgian version was finished at the end of the sixth century, which exhibited Greek influence, but it had an Armenian and Syriac source. The Ethiopic version was produced about the fourth or fifth century. There are various old Arabic versions. Translations of parts of the Bible into Arabic were produced about the seventh century, but the earliest evidence is that of a version made in Spain in 724. The Slavonic version was produced in the ninth century by the two brothers, Cyril and Methodius. Keep in mind, most scholars would argue that the Syriac versions and the Latin versions are generally speaking the most important when it comes to textual studies.
The Latin Versions
Romans 15:24-25 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
24 whenever I journey to Spain, I hope that I will see you in passing and to be helped on my way there by you after I have first enjoyed your company for a time. 25 But now I am about to travel to Jerusalem to minister to the holy ones. (Bold mine)
What Are the Syriac Versions, and How Have They Helped to Restore the Greek Text of the New Testament?
The apostle Paul penned those words on his third missionary journey in Rome about 56 C.E. We cannot be certain if Paul ever made his journey to Spain. However, Clement of Rome stated (c. 95 C.E.) that Paul, “having taught righteousness to the whole world and having reached the farthest limits of the West.” This very well could have included Spain. Regardless, through the efforts of Paul and his more than one hundred traveling companions, as well as other Christian missionaries after him, the Word of God, did reach Spain by the second century C.E. As a result, the conditions were right for the Christians in Spain to have the Bible translated into Latin. Latin was the official language of Imperial Rome. However, it was not the common language of the people throughout the Roman Empire the first century C.E. By the last half of the second century C.E., Spain had long been under Roman rule, and Latin had become the common language.
The Latin translations of the Bible were used in the Western part of the Roman Empire up unto the Reformation. In fact, they are still in use today in conjunction with translations from Latin into the common language, in the Roman Catholic Church.
Old Latin Versions (180 C.E.) came into existence prior to the end of the second century C.E. in Carthage, North Africa. Today we have thirty-two Old Latin manuscripts, Codex Vercellenis (ita) being the oldest, dating to the fourth century. None of the Old Latin manuscripts is a complete New Testament, but most of the New Testament is preserved when we consider them all. Scholars typically speak of to two basic types of Old Latin text: the African and the European. The sigla that represent the manuscripts of the Itala are italic lower-case letters, such as ita (Vercellenis) Gospels; 4th c., itaur (Aureus) Gospels; 7th c., itb (Veronensis) Gospels; 5th c., itd (Cantabrigiensis—the Latin text of Bezae) Gospels, Acts, 3 John; 5th c., ite (Palatinus) Gospels; 5th c., itf (Brixianus) Gospels; 6th c., itff2 (Corbeiensis II) Gospels; 5th c., itg1 (Sangermanensis) Matthew; 8th–9th c., and itgig (Gigas) Gospels; Acts; 13th c.
Below are the most important Old Latin witnesses of the African and the European type of texts. Old Latin manuscripts are so called not because they are written in Old Latin, that is, before 75 B.C.E. but rather because they are the oldest versions of the New Testament in Latin.
African Old Latin Manuscripts
ite (Palatinus) Gospels; 5th c.
The Codex Palatinus, designated by (ite) is a fifth-century Latin Gospel manuscript, which contains portions of the four Gospels. The Gospels follow in the Western order. The text was written on purple dyed vellum in gold and silver ink is a version of the old Latin. Even though the Latin text of Codex Palatinus is basically African recension, it has been strongly Europeanized.
John 1:34: “And I have seen and I have borne witness that this one is the Son of God.”
The TR WH NU reads ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ “the Son of God,” which is the reading in the KJV, NKJV, RSV, NIV, NASB, and UASV. It is supported by (P66 P75 P120 א2 A B C W Δ Θ Ψ 083). Variant reading 1 ο εκλεκτος του θεου “the Chosen One of God” is found in the TNIV, NEB, REB, NJB, NLT, and LEB. It is supported by (P5vid P106vid א* ite syrc,s). Variant 2 reading “chosen son of God” is found in the NETmg and is supported by (ita syrpal copsa)
Codex Palatinus (ite) reflects ο εκλεκτος “the Chosen One” along with the other manuscripts (P5vid P106vid א* ite syrc,s) These are impressive witnesses, two early papyri, an early uncial, as well as two of the most reliable early Western witnesses. However, the TR WH NU readings are even a little weightier than Variant 1, with the papyri and early uncials. This means that both readings likely existed in the early third-century C.E. “The second corrector of Codex Sinaiticus (sixth or seventh century) deleted εκλεκτος and wrote the nomen sacrum for υιος in the margin.” (P. W. Comfort 2008, 259) Some scholars have argued that εκλεκτος (Chosen One) is the harder reading; therefore, it is more likely that the reading was changed to the υιος (Son) as opposed to the εκλεκτος (Chosen One). We also have the fact that “the Son of God” frequently occurs in John’s Gospel, while “the chosen one” does not occur in the Gospel of John, or his letters (making it the harder reading), and Peter does call Jesus “the Holy One of God.” (John 6:69) All of this makes “the Chosen One of God” more appealing as the original reading. However, the external evidence is weightier for “the Son of God,” which is also in harmony with the theological terminology of the Gospel of John, as well as his three letters.
ith (Fleury palimpsest) Matt 3–14; 18–28; Acts; Revelation; Peter’s Epistles; 1 John; 5th c.
The Fleury Palimpsest, designated by (ith) h is a sixth-century Latin Gospel manuscript, which contains portions of Acts, the epistles of Peter, First John and Revelation. The codex was formerly at Fleury but is now is located in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. It contains many scribal errors. There are only ten differences in the book of Acts from the text of Acts contained in quotations in the Testimonia of Cyprian (c. 200 –258 C.E.), bishop of Carthage, which means the text is from the third century. The order of books was probably Revelation, Acts, First and Second Peter, then First John.
itk (Bobbiensis) Matthew, Mark; ca. 400
Codex Bobbiensis, designated by (itk) is one of the oldest and most important of the African Old Latin manuscripts of the New Testament, which contains parts of the Gospel of Mark (Mk 8:8-16:9) and Gospel of Matthew (Matt. 1:1-15:36). The Latin of the codex is a representative of the Western text-type. It was copied about 400 C.E. Sometime later, it was brought to an Irish monastery in Bobbio in northern Italy. Today it can be viewed in the National Library in Turin. Its form text agrees closely with quotes from Cyprian (c. 200 –258 C.E.) bishop of Carthage. Some scholars feel that it represents a page from the Bible Cyprian used while he was a bishop. After a paleographic study of the text, it has been determined that it was copied from a second-century papyrus. Codex Bobbiensis is the only known example of the intermediate ending of the Gospel of Mark.
Matthew 8:10: “Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, ‘Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.’” The WH NU have παρʼ οὐδενὶ τοσαύτην πίστιν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ εὗρον “with no one in Israel I found such faith.” The manuscript support is B W (f1 0281) itk copbo. This is the preferred reading of the NRSV, ESV, NASB, UASV, HCSB, NET, LEB, and others.
In a variant, which is also in the TR, we have ουδε εν τω Ισραηλ τοσαυτην πιστιν ευρον “not even in Israel I found such faith.” The manuscript support א is C Θ 0233 0250 f13 33 Maj. This is the preferred reading of the KJV, NKJV, ASV, RSV, and NEB. Because the manuscript evidence is so divided and it is with difficulty that one has to determine the original reading, the following translations have this variant reading in a footnote: NRSV, ESV, and NASB. Some argue that the variant is the result of adopting the reading from Luke 7:9.
European Old Latin Manuscripts
ita (Vercellensis) Gospels; 4th c.
Codex Vercellensis, designated by (ita) is likely the oldest and most important of the European Old Latin manuscripts of the New Testament, which contains Matthew, John, Luke and Mark respectively, the same order also found in some other very old “Western” manuscripts, such as Codex Bezae. It is housed in the cathedral library of Vercelli, in the Piedmont Region, Italy. It contains the long ending of Mark 16:9-20 on a replacement page, which begins mid-sentence in verse 7 in the Vulgate version. Unfortunately, the final pages of Mark after 15:15 are no longer extant. However, when C. H. Turner considered the space in 1928, it seemed unlikely that the original included verses 9-20.
Some would argue that this is made on assumptions that only four pages had been lost, which cannot be verified, as well as assuming the scribe did not accidently omit anything. It is not likely that some scribe simply made one replacement page. The more likely scenario is that the scribe merely took a page from another manuscript, as opposed to making one to place in Codex Vercellensis. The text of Codex Vercellensis is related to the fifth-century text of itff2 (Corbeiensis II), which contains the Gospels, and includes the long ending of Mark. According to an old tradition, Codex Vercellensis was penned under the direction of bishop Eusebius of Vercelli, who was martyred in 371, which would date it to the late fourth century. Textual scholar Peter M. Head reported on some important new research from Gregory Heyworth and Roger Easton. “In March 2013, a team from the Lazarus Project traveled to Vercelli to collect spectral images of sample leaves from the codex. In July 2014, they returned to image the entire manuscript (Codex Vercellensis), this time with help from the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library. Spectral imaging involves two distinct phases. First, imagers photograph the manuscript with a 50-megapixel camera fitted with a specially calibrated quartz lens and a dual filter wheel. Specially designed LED light units illuminate each folio both from above (reflectively) and below (transmissively) in twelve different wavelengths of light between the ultraviolet (365nm) and the infrared (940nm). Fluorescence from the manuscript provoked by ultraviolet and blue light is separated and captured with the help of a dual filter wheel that sits in front of the lens. All told, as many as thirty-three individual images of each page are captured by the computer-driven system, totaling in this case over 20,000 photos in a ten day period and over 4 terabytes of data.” Head goes to say, “The result of the first imaging is shown in the animation video. Much of the text that is unreadable to the unaided eye reveals itself in the spectral images. Processing of images of the entire manuscript is now ongoing. Additional results are expected by the end of summer 2015, to be followed by a new edition by Heyworth under the auspices of the Vetus Latina Institute.”
Matthew 27:9 “Then what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: ‘And they took the thirty silver pieces, the price that was set on the man, the one on whom a price was set by some of the sons of Israel.’” The TR WH NU has Ἰερεμίου τοῦ προφήτου “Jeremiah the prophet,” which is supported by א A B C L W all.
Variant 1 has Ζαχαριου του προφητου “Zechariah the prophet,” which is support by 22 syrhmg. Variant 2 has Ιησαιου του προφητου “Isaiah the prophet,” which is supported by 21 itl. Variant 3 has του προφητου “the prophet,” which is supported by Φ 33 ita,b syrp,s copboMS MSSaccording to Augustine.
Matthew says that Jeremiah the prophet penned this quote when the words are found in Zechariah the prophet. Therefore, it would seem that Jeremiah was actually quoting Zechariah 11:12–13. Because of this perceived difficulty, some scribes in variant 1 changed “Jeremiah” to “Zechariah,” while other scribes in variant 2 changed “Jeremiah” to “Isaiah.” Then again, other scribes in variant 3 simply removed Jeremiah’s name, leaving us “the prophet.” However, there is no error on the part of Matthew because the prophecy comes from Zech. 11:12–13 and Jer. 19:1–11; 32:6–9.
Let us note the differences between what Matthew paraphrases and what Jeremiah says. Matthew has the prophet paying out the money for a field rather than giving it personally to the potter as is the case with Zechariah. Also, notice that the entire thrust of Matthew’s quotation is on the purchase of the field, while Zechariah does not even mention a field. Now if we drop down to Jeremiah 32:6-9, we will find the prophet purchasing a field for seventeen shekels of silver. Jeremiah 18:2 informs us that Jeremiah is sent “down to the potter’s house,” where he was to ‘hear God’s words.’ Jeremiah 19:2 has Jeremiah being commanded to “go out to the Valley of the Son of Hinnom at the entry of the Potsherd Gate, and proclaim there the words that I tell you.” Jeremiah 19:11 informs us of Jeremiah’s symbolic actions, “and shall say to them, ‘Thus says Jehovah of armies: So will I break this people and this city, as one breaks the vessel of the potter, so that it can never be repaired; and in Topheth men shall bury because there will be no place else to bury.’” (UASV)
We must keep in mind as well that Zechariah was quite fond of using Jeremiah in his book. (Zech. 1:4 and Jer. 18:11; Zech. 3:8 and Jer. 23:5; Zech. 1:12 7:5 and Jer. 25:12) Further, if we reread Zechariah’s words, we will see that he does not mention the purchase of a field, but Jeremiah does mention such a purchase. Actually, it is Jeremiah that writes, “because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents” (19:4), and says that the name of the potter’s field, “shall no more be called Topheth, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.” (19:6) In addition, it must be kept in mind that it was Jeremiah the prophet who actually purchased a potter’s field. (Jer. 32:6-9) Thus, it was a common practice for a later prophet to quote or use the information from an earlier prophet. We can see that Zechariah did just that, and it is likely that our so-called mistake is just another example of Zechariah quoting Jeremiah. Zechariah’s own words further support this, “were not these the words that Jehovah proclaimed by the former prophets.” (7:7) It was also a common saying among the Jews that “the spirit of Jeremiah was upon Zechariah.” If we combine this with the fact that Jeremiah was the more prominent prophet, we can see why Matthew credits him.
itb (Veronensis) Gospels; 5th c.
Codex Veronensis, designated by (itb) is a fifth-century Latin manuscript written on purple dyed vellum in silver and occasionally gold ink, which followed in the Western order. It contains all four Gospels, in almost their entirety: Matthew, John, Luke, Mark. It has several lacunae (Matt. 1:1-11; 15:12-23; 23:18-27; John 7:44-8:12; Lu 19:26-21:29; Mk 13:9-19; 13:24-16:20). The Latin text of Codex Veronensis represents the Western text-type in European recension. Metzger says that Francis Crawford Burkitt (1864–1935) says, “It represents the type of text that Jerome used as the basis for the Vulgate.”
There are several pages missing from Codex Veronensis, which include the pages that would have contained John 7:44-8:11, and when the spacing is considered, it would seem, it would have included John 7:53-8:11, namely, the account of the adulteress. However, the evidence is overwhelming that the account is an interpolation and is not part of John’s Gospel.
John 14:14: “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
The WH NU has ἐάν τι αἰτήσητε με ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι μου “whatever you ask me in my name,” which is supported by P66 P75vid א B W Δ Θ 060 f13 33. The variant/TR has εαν τι αιτησητε εν τω ονοματι μου “whatever you ask in my name,” which is supported by A D L Q Ψ.
The “if you ask me anything” has the support of the earliest manuscripts. Scribes likely omitted με (“me”) so as to bring 14:14 into harmony with 14:13, as well as 15:16 and 16:23. In Codex Veronensis (itb), the entire verse of John 14:14 is omitted along with manuscripts X f1 565 1009 ℓ 76 ℓ 253 vgmss syrs, pal arm geo Diatessaron. Ancient versions were known to omit repetitive material. The omission could have been accidental or intentional. Below is an image of where John 14:14 would be in P75. There is a lacuna there, which is a gap where something is missing in the manuscript. The vid in P75vid (Latin videtur, “it seems so”) is an indication that the reading is in the witness, but there is no absolute certainty because of a lacuna. Nevertheless, there is space for the με (“me”) in the reading that would be there.
If one is wondering why ego (“I”) is missing, it may be that the scribe or some previous scribe left it out, because it is redundant in the verse. Because the personal ending on the verb poieso (“I will do”), has the “I” and there is no real need for ego.
TC Principle/Rule: The reading that the other rose from is likely the original. Was it more likely that “me” was omitted or added? It is more likely that “me” was omitted, to be in agreement with 14:13, 15:16 and 16:23.
TC Principle/Rule: The more difficult or awkward reading is often preferable. Which is the harder reading? “Me” is at odds with verses 14:13; 15:16 and 16:23, and the rest of the Gospel of John.
TC Principle/Rule: The reading that is deemed immediately at odds with the context is preferred if deemed intentional because a scribe is more likely to have smoothed the reading out. The scribe likely omitted “me” to bring verse 14 in harmony with verses 14:13, 15:16 and 16:23, as well as the rest of John. In addition, “me” seems logical when we consider it with the “I” at the end of the sentence.
“If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.”
TC Principle/Rule: Within the synoptic gospels especially, a less identical reading is preferred, as scribes had a tendency to harmonize readings. Even though John is not one of the synoptic gospels, it seems the copyists were trying to harmonize by omitting “me.”
TC Principle/Rule: The Alexandrian text-type is generally preferred (especially P66 P75 01 and 03) There is no doubt that we have the best Alexandrian support.
Rule: A represented reading from more than one geographical area may be preferred to even an Alexandrian text-type reading. “Me” has Alexandrian and Western family support.
Rule: An author-doctrine reading is preferred. If a reading matches the doctrine of the author, it is preferred, and the variants that are foreign to that doctrine are questionable. This is the only principle that stands against “me.”
The με (“me”) in “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it,” must be considered almost certain because of the excellent weighty external evidence P66 P75 א A B D L W Θ it cop.
itc (Colbertinus) Gospels; twelfth c.
Codex Colbertinus, designated by (itc) was penned in the twelfth century, likely in Southern France is now housed at the National Library of France at Paris. The four Gospels and Book of Acts Codex Colbertinus follows the European Old Latin (with traces of African readings), while the rest of the New Testament follows the Vulgate.
Matthew 27:38: “Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.”
In Codex Colbertinus (itc), the two robbers, who were crucified on either side of Jesus, are named: Zoatham (right-hand) and Camma (left-hand). In Mark 15:27, virtually the same names are given by the same scribe, as Zoatham and Chammata. Codex Rehdigeranus (itl) gives the names of the two robbers as Joathas and Maggatras. It was common for scribes to give names to persons that they felt played a major role in the Scriptures.
itff2 (Corbeiensis II) Gospels; 5th c.
Codex Corbeiensis II, designated by (itff2) is a fifth century Old Latin Gospel, written on vellum, containing 190 parchment folio with the text of the four Gospels with lacunae (Matt 1:1-11:16; Luke 9:48; 10:20.21; 11:45-12:6.7; John 17:15-18:9; 20:22-21:8). It was penned in a beautiful round uncial hand. The Gospels are as follows: Matthew, Luke, John, Mark. The Latin text of Codex Corbeiensis II is characteristic of the Western text-type. It contains a form of text that is akin to that preserved in Codex Vercellensis and Codex Veronensis.
Photograph courtesy of the National Library of Sweden.
itgig (Gigas) Gospels; Acts; 13th c.
Codex Gigas, is designated by (itgig) and is known in English as the Giant Book, as it is the largest extant medieval manuscript in the world (weighing in at 165 pounds). Each page is about 20 by 36 inches. It dates to the thirteenth century. The New Testament is as follows, Matthew thru Acts, James thru Revelation, and Romans thru Hebrews.
It is also known as the Devil’s Bible because it has a huge illustration of the devil on the inside (Folio 290 recto). The Legend is that a monk who sold his soul to the devil created the codex. The codex was created by Herman the Recluse in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice near Chrudim in the Bohemia, to later be acquired by the Imperial Treasury in Prague. At the end of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648, the codex was taken by the Swedish army and presented to the Royal Library in Stockholm, where it remains from 1649 to 2007.
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 Michael William Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, Third ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 53.
 (Metzger and Ehrman 1964, 1968, 1992, 2005, p. 102)
 (B. M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament 1994, p. 172)
 Bruce M. Metzger, The Early Versions of the New Testament, Oxford University Press, 1977, pp. 314-315.
 K. Aland & B. Aland, The text of the New Testament: an introduction to the critical editions and to the Theory and Practice of the Modern Textual Criticism, Wm. Eerdmans, 1995, p. 188
 Seeing the Codex Vercellensis in a New Light .., http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.com/2015/03/seeing-codex-vercellensi (accessed April 09, 2017).
 I.e. silver shekels; it takes 50 shekels to equal 1 mina, and 60 minas to equal 1 talent.
 Bruce M. Metzger, The Early Versions of the New Testament, Oxford University Press, 1977, p. 296.
 Scrivener, Frederick Henry Ambrose; Edward Miller (1894). A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament. Vol. 2 (fourth ed.). London: George Bell & Sons. p. 45.
 Gregory, Caspar René (1902). Textkritik des Neuen Testaments. Leipzig. p. 601
 Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, Oxford University Press 2005, p. 102.
 See Bruce M. Metzger’s article, “Names for the Nameless in the New Testament; a Study in the Growth of Christian Tradition,” inKyriakon: Festschrift Johannes Quasten, edited by Patrick Granfield and Josef A. Jungmann (Münster/W., 1970), pp. 89 ff., reprinted (with additions) in Metzger, New Testament Studies(Leiden, 1980), pp. 33 ff.
 Bruce M. Metzger, The Early Versions of the New Testament, Oxford University Press, 1977, p. 296.
 Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, Oxford University Press 2005, p. 102.
 Rufinus of Aquileia, “The Apology of Rufinus”, trans. William Henry Fremantle In , in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series, Volume III: Theodoret, Jerome, Gennadius, Rufinus: Historial Writings, Etc., ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1892), 462-63.