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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: 2022 Greek-English New Testament Interlinear
Matthew 1:18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was in this way: When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
[ … ] The square brackets below in P1 are a reconstruction of the letters or words that were likely original.
While this entry into the CPH New Testament Textual Commentary is not about the nomina sacra, it does not hurt to mention the phenomena as well, as it is within our textual issues. Nomina Sacra (singular: nomen sacrum from Latin sacred name): In early Christian scribal practices, there was the abbreviation of several frequently occurring divine names or titles within the Greek manuscripts. In the divine names Jesus, Christ, and Spirit are written in nomen sacrum in the earliest manuscripts (P1 א B W) The earliest of these is P1, which dates to about 250 C.E., and is similar to P69, having the same date. This is, but a mere 200 years after Matthew penned his Gospel and only 150 years after John penned his Gospel, three epistles, and the book of Revelation.
ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΤΘΑΙΟΝ 1:18 1550 Stephanus New Testament (TR1550)
18 του δε ιησου χριστου η γεννησις ουτως ην μνηστευθεισης γαρ της μητρος αυτου μαριας τω ιωσηφ πριν η συνελθειν αυτους ευρεθη εν γαστρι εχουσα εκ πνευματος αγιου
[CE] MATTHEW 1:18 The Greek-English New Testament Interlinear (GENTI)
1:18 Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἡ γένεσις οὕτως ἦν. Μνηστευθείσης τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ Μαρίας τῷ Ἰωσήφ, πρὶν ἢ συνελθεῖν αὐτοὺς εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου.
(𝔓1 א C (L) Z (f1, 33)
MATTHEW 1:18 PAPYRUS 1 – P. Oxy. 2 (𝔓1)
18 Τοῦ δὲ ι̅υ̅ χ̅υ̅ ἡ γένεσις οὕτως ἦν. Μνηστευθείσης τῆς μητρὸς αὐτοῦ Μ[αρ]ία[ς] τῷ Ἰω]σήφ, πρὶν ἢ συνελθεῖν αὐτοὺ[ς εὑ]ρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ [π̅ν̅ς̅ ]ἁ[γίου.
TR WH NU τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἡ γένεσις
“the birth of [the] Jesus Christ”
P1 א C (L) Z (f1, 33)
Variant 1 “the birth of the Christ”
Variant 2 του δε Χριστου Ιησου η γενεσις
“the birth of the Christ Jesus”
Variant 3 του δε Ιησου η γενεσις
“the birth of [the] Jesus”
Generally speaking, if either Ἰησοῦς or Χριστός was alone in a reading, the scribal tendency was to expand either of them by adding the other. It would seem that this is not the case with this verse, as we do not have variants 1, 2, or 3 as the original reading and an overzealous scribe adding Ἰησοῦς or Χριστός sometime later. The expression of variant 2 του δε Χριστου Ιησου (the Christ Jesus) would likely not have moved scribes to make alterations if it were the original. The expression of variant 3 του δε Ιησου (the Jesus) would likely not have motivated scribes to make alterations if it were the original, for we have the name Ἰησοῦ in 1:16. The more difficult reading, the more uncommon reading is τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ (the Jesus Christ).
The external manuscript evidence in support of τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ of the TR WH NU is overwhelming. However, as was stated, the reading is more difficult to explain, and it would seem to be slightly less probable because it literally reads “the birth of the Jesus Christ.” In the Greek New Testament, it is very rare that we find the definite article before the full divine name “Jesus Christ.” This only takes place in a few inferior manuscripts, Acts 8:37; 1 John 4:3; and Revelation 12:17. (Westcott and Hort 1882, 7; Metzger 1994, 6-7; Comfort 2008, 4) This extremely unique phrase could explain why the copyists were moved to make the above changes. We can see that Variant 1 was a straightforward change. Variant 2 is very common in the Pauline epistles, and the copyist of variant 3 simply removed Χριστοῦ (Christ), which removed the highly uncommon phrase. Therefore, the harder reading that provoked the copyists to alter the text with the very strong external manuscript evidence that was “current in many parts of the early church” (Metzger 1994, 7) was original.
In trying to understand why Matthew used the definite article before the full divine name “Jesus Christ,” we only need to look back at 1:16, which reads, “Jacob became the father of Joseph, of whom Jesus was born, [the one] who is called Christ.” So, Matthew says, in essence, in verse 18, “the birth of Jesus Christ was in this way, a reference back to the importance of verse 16.
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.
- 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