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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
1 TIMOTHY΄ 3:16 (WH NU GENTI) [BRD] All modern-day translations
16 καὶ ὁμολογουμένως μέγα ἐστὶν τὸ τῆς εὐσεβείας μυστήριον· Ὃς ἐφανερώθη ἐν σαρκί, ἐδικαιώθη ἐν πνεύματι, ὤφθη ἀγγέλοις, ἐκηρύχθη ἐν ἔθνεσιν, ἐπιστεύθη ἐν κόσμῳ, ἀνελήμφθη ἐν δόξῃ.
א* A* C* F G 33 Didymus
variant 1 ὃ εφανερωθη
“which was manifested”
variant 2/TR θεος εφανερωθη
“God was manifested”
אc Ac C2 D2 Ψ 1739 Maj
|1 Timothy 3:16 King James Version||1 Timothy 3:16 Updated American Standard Version||1 Timothy 3:16 English Standard Version||1 Timothy 3:16 Christian Standard Bible|
|16 … God was manifest in the flesh, …||16 … He was manifested in the flesh, …||
16 … He was manifested in the flesh, …
|16 … He was manifested in the flesh, …|
“who [or he who] was manifested in the flesh” was the original reading based on the earliest and best manuscripts (א* A* C*), as well as F G 33 Didymus. There are two other variant readings, “which” (D*) and “God” (אc Ac C2 D2 Ψ 1739 Maj). Using Comfort’s system, “A superscript c or numbers designate corrections made in the manuscript. An asterisk designates the original, pre-corrected reading.” The witnesses (manuscripts) that support “who” or “he who”is very weighty. We can see from the above that there were many manuscripts that made what they perceived to be a correction in their manuscript, which clearly comes across as a scribal emendation. Certainly, the pronoun “who” is a reference to Jesus Christ.
This simply solved textual issue caused many problems in the nineteenth century and really with the King James Version Onlyists, it still does today. The Bible scholars entered the fray because they thought the textual scholars were undermining their doctrinal position that God became man. The early argument by some textual scholars as to how the variant 2/TR came about was that the Greek word translated “God,” which was abbreviated to the nomen sacrum (sacred name) ΘC, had initially looked like the Greek word OC, which means “who” or “he who.” They argued that a horizontal stroke showing faintly through from the other side of the vellum manuscript page, and a later hand added a line across the top, which turned the word OC (“who”) into the nomen sacrum contraction ΘC (“God”). However, it seems highly unlikely as Comfort comments: “how several fourth- and fifth-century scribes, who had seen thousands of nomina sacra, would have made this mistake.” We would agree with Comfort that it was clearly a doctrinal motivation, wanting it to read, “God was manifest in the flesh.”
Metzger rates “He was manifested in the flesh” as certain, saying,
The reading which, on the basis of external evidence and transcriptional probability, best explains the rise of the others is ὅς. It is supported by the earliest and best uncials (א* A*vid C* Ggr) as well as by 33 365 442 2127 syrhmg, goth ethpp Origenlat Epiphanius Jerome Theodore Eutherius Cyril Cyrilacc. to Ps-Oecumenius Liberatus. Furthermore, since the neuter relative pronoun ὅ must have arisen as a scribal correction of ὅς (to bring the relative into concord with μυστήριον), the witnesses that read ὅ (D* itd, , , vg Ambrosiaster Marius Victorinus Hilary Pelagius Augustine) also indirectly presuppose ὅς as the earlier reading. The Textus Receptus reads θεός, with אe (this corrector is of the twelfth century) A2 C2 Dc K L P Ψ 81 330 614 1739 Byz Lect Gregory-Nyssa Didymus Chrysostom Theodoret Euthalius and later Fathers. Thus, no uncial (in the first hand) earlier than the eighth or ninth century (Ψ) supports θεός; all ancient versions presuppose ὅς or ὅ; and no patristic writer prior to the last third of the fourth century testifies to the reading θεός. The reading θεός arose either (a) accidentally, through the misreading of ος as ΘΣ, or (b) deliberately, either to supply a substantive for the following six verbs, or, with less probability, to provide greater dogmatic precision.
Early on, Johann Jakob Wettstein (1693-1754) noted that ΘC originally looked like OC, but felt that a horizontal stroke had faintly shown through the other side of the uncial manuscript page, indicating a later hand adding a horizontal line to OC and giving us the contraction ΘC (“God”). However, this author believes that Comfort made a valid point above, looking at his words more fully, “It is difficult to imagine how several fourth- and fifth-century scribes, who had seen thousands of nomina sacra, would have made this mistake. It is more likely that the changes were motivated by a desire to make the text say that it was “God” who was manifested in the flesh.” (P. W. Comfort 2008, 663) If we believe that doctrinal considerations were not behind the scribal changes, all we have to do is investigate what took place when it was understood that the actual reading was “He who was manifested in the flesh,” as opposed to “God was manifested in the flesh.” The battle in the nineteenth century was as though the loss of the reading in the Textus Receptus (θeός KJV) would undermine the doctrine of the Trinity. Doctrinal motivations have always played a role in the copying of the Bible, but the truth is that these are actually few in number. Considering the number of manuscripts that were copied, if these kinds of changes were a major problem, we should see more of them.
Variant Reading(s): differing versions of a word or phrase found in two or more manuscripts within a variation unit (see below). Variant readings are also called alternate readings.
Variation Unit: any portion of text that exhibits variations in its reading between two or more different manuscripts. It is important to distinguish variation units from variant readings. Variation units are the places in the text where manuscripts disagree, and each variation unit has at least two variant readings. Setting the limits and range of a variation unit is sometimes difficult or even controversial because some variant readings affect others nearby. Such variations may be considered individually, or as elements of a single reading. One should also note that the terms “manuscript” and “witness” may appear to be used interchangeably in this context. Strictly speaking “witness” (see below) will only refer to the content of a given manuscript or fragment, which it predates to a greater or lesser extent. However, the only way to reference the “witness” is by referring to the manuscript or fragment that contains it. In this book, we have sometimes used the terminology “witness of x or y manuscript” to distinguish the content in this way.
TERMS AS TO HOW WE SHOULD OBJECTIVELY VIEW THE DEGREE OF CERTAINTY FOR THE READING ACCEPTED AS THE ORIGINAL
The modal verbs are might have been (30%), may have been (40%), could have been (55%), would have been (80%), must have been (95%), which are used to show that we believe the originality of a reading is certain, probable or possible.
The letter [WP] stands for Weak Possibility (30%), which indicates that this is a low-level proof that the reading might have been original in that it is enough evidence to accept that the variant might have been possible, but it is improbable. We can say the reading might have been original, as there is some evidence that is derived from manuscripts that carry very little weight, early versions, or patristic quotations.
The letter [P] stands for Plausible (40%), which indicates that this is a low-level proof that the reading may have been original in that it is enough to accept a variant to be original and we have enough evidence for our belief. The reading may have been original but it is not probably so.
The letter [PE] stands for Preponderance of Evidence (55%), which indicates that this is a higher-level proof that the reading could have been original in that it is enough to accept as such unless another reading emerges as more probable.
The letter [CE] stands for Convincing Evidence (80%), which indicates that the evidence is an even higher-level proof that the reading surely was the original in that the evidence is enough to accept it as substantially certain unless proven otherwise.
The letter [BRD] stands for Beyond Reasonable Doubt (95%), which indicates that this is the highest level of proof: the reading must have been original in that there is no reason to doubt it. It must be understood that feeling as though we have no reason to doubt is not the same as one hundred percent absolute certainty.
NOTE: This system is borrowed from the criminal just legal terms of the United States of America, the level of certainty involved in the use of modal verbs, and Bruce Metzger in his A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (London; New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), who borrowed his system from Johann Albrecht Bengel in his edition of the Greek New Testament (Tübingen, 1734). In addition, the percentages are in no way attempting to be explicit but rather they are nothing more than a tool to give the non-textual scholar a sense of the degree of certainty. However, this does not mean the percentages are not reflective of certainty.
- 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)
- 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