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Major Critical Texts of the New Testament
Byz RP: 2005 Byzantine Greek New Testament, Robinson & Pierpont
TR1550: 1550 Stephanus New Testament
Maj: The Majority Text (thousands of minuscules which display a similar text)
Gries: 1774-1775 Johann Jakob Griesbach Greek New Testament
Treg: 1857-1879 Samuel Prideaux Tregelles Greek New Testament
Tisch: 1872 Tischendorf’s Greek New Testament
WH: 1881 Westcott-Hort Greek New Testament
NA28: 2012 Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament
UBS5: 2014 Greek New Testament
NU: Both Nestle-Aland and the United Bible Society
SBLGNT: 2010 Greek New Testament ()
THGNT: 2017 The Greek New Testament by Tyndale House
GENTI: 2020 Greek-English New Testament Interlinear
ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 5:3b-4 1550 Stephanus New Testament (TR1550) [WP]
3… εκδεχομενων την του υδατος κινησιν 4 αγγελος γαρ κατα καιρον κατεβαινεν εν τη κολυμβηθρα και εταρασσεν το υδωρ ο ουν πρωτος εμβας μετα την ταραχην του υδατος υγιης εγινετο ω δηποτε κατειχετο νοσηματι.
John 5:3b-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
3 … [waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.]
John 5:3b-4 King James Version (KJV)
… waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.
ΚΑΤΑ ΙΩΑΝΝΗΝ 5:3b-4 (WH NU TGNT) [BRD]
Matthew 5:47a Updated American Standard Version (UASV) See also ESV LEB CSB
WH NU TGNT ——
P66 P75 א A* B C* L T D Wsupp 33 itd, I, Q cop Vg Syc
Variant 1 (5:3b) εκδεχομενων την του υδατος κινησιν (waiting for the moving of the waters)
D Ws 33
S: the reading is found in a supplement—a later addition to the manuscript. (Comfort)
Variant 2 (5:4) 4 αγγελος γαρ κατα καιρον κατεβαινεν εν τη κολυμβηθρα και εταρασσεν το υδωρ ο ουν πρωτος εμβας μετα την ταραχην του υδατος υγιης εγινετο ω δηποτε κατειχετο νοσηματι (for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.)
* the original, pre-corrected reading
Variant 3 TR (5:3b-4) εκδεχομενων την του υδατος κινησιν 4 αγγελος γαρ κατα καιρον κατεβαινεν εν τη κολυμβηθρα και εταρασσεν το υδωρ ο ουν πρωτος εμβας μετα την ταραχην του υδατος υγιης εγινετο ω δηποτε κατειχετο νοσηματι
(waiting for the moving of the waters; 4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred up the water; whoever then first, after the stirring up of the water, stepped in was made well from whatever disease with which he was afflicted.)
A2 C3 L Θ Ψ 078vid Maj it
The earliest and best witnesses (MSS) P66 P75 א A* B C* L T D Wsupp 33 itd, I, Q cop Vg Syc do not have John 5:3b-4 in their exemplar; Other later witnesses (MSS) A2 C3 L Θ Ψ 078vid Maj it did have: “waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel of the Lord would come down at certain seasons into the pool and stirred the water. Whoever went in first after the stirring of the water was healed of whatever disease he had.” This interpolation was added by later scribes to explain the sick man’s answer in verses 7 where he describes ‘the water being stirred up.’
It is evident that some verses of the Greek New Testament manuscripts found in the older translations, such as the King James Version, were actually additions that were made by later copyists and were never part of the original Greek New Testament manuscripts. Matthew 17:21; 18:11; 23:14; Mark 7:16; 9:44, 46; 11:26; 15:28; Luke 17:36; 23:17; John 5:3b, 4; Acts 8:37; 15:34; 24:7; 28:29; and Romans 16:24.
The following Bible translations have omitted John 5:3b-4 in the main text: ASV RSV NRSV ESV CSB UASV NIV TNIV NEB REB NJB NAB NLT NET. Some of the Bible translations have retained the interpolation in the footnote.
The following Bible translations have retained John 5:3b-4 in the main text: KJV NKJV NASB HCSB.
The 2001 English Standard Version (ESV) says in its footnote on John 5:3b-4: “Some manuscripts insert, wholly or in part …” The 2012 Lexham English Bible (LEB) says in its footnote on John 5:3b-4: “The majority of later manuscripts add the following words …” the 2017 Christian Standard Bible (CSB) says in its footnote on John 5:3b-4: “Some mss include …” The 1995 New American Standard Bible (NSSB) says in its footnote on John 5:3b-4: “Early mss do not contain the remainder of v 3, nor v 4.” None of these footnotes helps the Bible reader even a little. Alone, without being qualified, they mean absolutely nothing. The best of the lot is the note in the NASB. However, what kind of early mss? Of course, the worthlessness of textual footnotes in almost all modern translations is a discussion for another day. The 2022 Updated American Standard Version (UASV), on the other hand, has an informative footnote for John 5:3b-4.
Let’s return to the question that Michael S. Heiser asks, “Who took John 5:4 out of the Bible?”
Textual scholars in footnotes or textual commentaries speaking of text in manuscripts as having been omitted or missing is using a poor choice of words because what was never there cannot be missing or having been omitted. Thus, the point to be made here is the language that one uses is important. You cannot take anything out that was never there in the first place. We are certain beyond a reasonable doubt that the interpolation of John 5:3b-4 was added by a later scribe and was not part of the original text. Therefore, again, we must plainly ask, how does a translation take “out” words or phrases that were never “in” in the first place? I will assume that when Michael S. Heiser asks “Who took John 5:4 out of the Bible?” he meant the King James Version Bible and other pre-1900 translations as his article infers. But what causes the confusion is the diehard KJV readers and the even more so the radical KJVO (King James Version Only) readers view the KJV as the original Bible in English. Therefore, when Michael S. Heiser asks, “Who took John 5:4 out of the Bible?” the KJV readers and KJVO readers see that as being equal to asking “Who took John 5:4 out of the original?” This may even be the case with other Bible translation readers to, such as the ESV, NASB, NIV, and others.
Michael S. Heiser also asks,
Why would verse 4 have not been included in the original New Testament? It is not because of the angel in the story. The Bible has no problem with angels; they’re all over the place, doing all sorts of things. But, like today, there was a great deal of folklore and superstition about them. The idea that an angel stirred the waters at a given time during the year was one such superstition. John 5:7 mentions the stirring of the water but does not mention the angel. It’s likely that John knew of the belief about the waters of Bethesda but chose to leave it out for a specific reason. Perhaps he does not wish to endorse that an angel was stirring the water. By excluding the popular belief about the angel, John focuses his readers on the healer who was indeed present—Jesus.
Here is where Michael S. Heiser, in his article, causes confusion, ambiguity, a problem for his readers. It sounds as though he believes the words (the account about the angel stirring the water) at John 5:3b-4 were original in some way (maybe an oral tradition) but that John left them out to avoid superstition and to focus on Jesus. Heisler writes, “It’s likely that John knew of the belief about the waters of Bethesda [being stirred by an angel] but chose to leave it out for a specific reason.” How can we suggest that John had known about something that is not mentioned in the original by him or any other Gospel, nor any other NT author? It is true, however, that three Church fathers, two Latin one Greek, cited the account: Tertullian (c.155–c.222), Ambrose (4th century), John Chrysostom (c.347–c.407). Whether this was an early oral tradition that a later scribe inserted into the text is not known.
What we do know is this. In looking at the external evidence, the best and earliest manuscript evidence does not contain this interpolation. In looking at the internal evidence, the style and vocabulary are not Johannine. Why would John use κινησιν [to set in motion, to move] in verse 3b and then use ταρασσω (to agitate, trouble, as water) later in verses 4 and 7? Then, we have εμβας [stepped in], which is not the usual word for getting into the water, it is καταβαινω [to come or go down, descend, to lead down, to come down, to be let down]. There is ω δηποτε [of whatsoever KJV), whatever, no matter what], which is a unique construction that does not occur anywhere else in the Greek New Testament. As well, νοσηματι [disease] is a unique word that does not occur anywhere else in the Greek New Testament. Scribal activity suggests that it is highly unlikely that a scribe would have omitted the verse because it mentioned a seemingly odd, even superstitious action of an angel.
If we have the original words, we, in essence, have the original and; therefore, do not need the original documents.
- Edward D. Andrews, FROM SPOKEN WORDS TO SACRED TEXTS: Introduction-Intermediate New Testament Textual Studies (Cambridge, Ohio), 2021.
- B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort, Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek: Appendix (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1882)
- Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006)
- Bruce Manning Metzger, United Bible Societies, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition a Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th Rev. Ed.) (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994),
- Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: NTG Apparatus Criticus, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012).
- Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament: Apparatus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017).
- Dirk Jongkind, ed., The Greek New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), Matt. 6:8.
- Eberhard Nestle and Erwin Nestle, Nestle-Aland: Novum Testamentum Graece, ed. Barbara Aland et al., 28. revidierte Auflage. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2012)
- Philip Wesley Comfort, A COMMENTARY ON THE MANUSCRIPTS AND TEXT OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2015).
- Philip W. Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary: Commentary on the Variant Readings of the Ancient New Testament Manuscripts and How They Relate to the Major English Translations (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2008).
- Philip Wesley Comfort and David P. Barrett, The Text of the Earliest New Testament Manuscripts: Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, 2 Volume Set The (English and Greek Edition) (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2019)
- Rick Brannan and Israel Loken, The Lexham Textual Notes on the Bible, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).
- Roger L. Omanson and Bruce Manning Metzger, A Textual Guide to the Greek New Testament: An Adaptation of Bruce M. Metzger’s Textual Commentary for the Needs of Translators (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2006).
- Wallace B., Daniel (n.d.). Retrieved from The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts: http://csntm.org/
- Wilker, Wieland (n.d.). Retrieved from An Online Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels: http://www.willker.de/wie/TCG/index.html