Please Help Us Keep These Thousands of Blog Posts Growing and Free for All
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 that 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
A comprehensive textual commentary on James 1:12b, addressing its core themes and variations in Greek manuscripts. Understand the New Testament verse’s profound message of perseverance, divine promise, and the crown of life in this detailed study. Ideal for scholars, students, and those intrigued by Biblical interpretation.
WH NU ἐπηγγείλατο
𝔓23 א A B Ψ cop
variant 1/TR ο κυριος επηγγειλατο
“the Lord promised”
C P 0246 Maj syr
Variant 2 ο θεος επηγγειλατο
33vid 1739 syr
James 1:12 is a striking verse that carries important themes related to endurance, trials, divine approval, and the ultimate reward, which is the “crown of life.”
The first section of the verse, “Blessed is the man who endures under trial,” signifies the advantage, or indeed the blessing, that befalls a person who remains steadfast under trials. This notion of endurance under trials is not isolated to the book of James but is a recurring motif in the New Testament (Romans 5:3-5; 2 Corinthians 12:10; Hebrews 12:7). Here, the term “trial” could denote various kinds of tribulations or afflictions that test one’s faith. The word “endure” comes from the Greek term “hypomenō,” which literally means to “remain under.” This signifies an attitude of perseverance and resistance to succumbing to the difficulties.
The subsequent phrase, “for when he has been approved,” introduces a condition subsequent to enduring trials, namely being approved or tested positively. The Greek word used here is “dokimos,” which was often used to denote metals that have been tested for their purity and quality. It carries the notion of proving one’s integrity and reliability under challenging circumstances.
Moving to the clause, “he will receive the crown of life,” introduces the reward that awaits the one who endures trials and receives approval. The “crown of life” here is an eschatological reward, representing eternal life. This phrase likely borrows from the ancient Greek tradition of giving crowns to victorious athletes and soldiers.
The verse concludes with, “which he promised to those who love him.” There’s a point of variation in the manuscripts here. In the manuscript tradition represented by 𝔓23, Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), and others, the subject is unspecified, resulting in “he promised.” Some other manuscripts including Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus (C), and the Majority Text, have “the Lord promised,” while a minority of manuscripts, including Minuscule 33 and 1739, have “God promised.”
While these manuscript differences might be seen as significant, it should be noted that the overall theological message of the verse remains consistent across the variants. The subject of the promise, whether unspecified, “the Lord,” or “God,” is in any case, clearly a divine figure. Therefore, the promise of the “crown of life” to those who love him is unequivocally a divine promise.
In conclusion, James 1:12 offers a profound theological message that resonates with the larger New Testament themes of enduring trials, divine approval, and eternal rewards. Despite some minor manuscript variations, the core message remains consistent, underscoring the ultimate reward awaiting those who persevere under trials and love God.
The best textual reading based on the weightiest evidence, following the documentary approach and the principle of preferring the Alexandrian manuscripts, would be “he promised” (ἐπηγγείλατο).
This reading is supported by some of the earliest and most reliable manuscripts, including 𝔓23, Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), and others, which aligns with the text-critical principle of preferring the earliest attestations.
Moreover, the unspecified subject (“he promised”) might be seen as the harder reading since later copyists may have sought to clarify the subject by adding “the Lord” or “God.” This reflects the principle of lectio difficilior, or “the harder reading is to be preferred,” as copyists are less likely to make a text more difficult.
Thus, while other variants exist and are reflected in other manuscript traditions, the weightiest manuscript evidence favors the reading “he promised,” with the subject left unspecified. This approach ensures that our reading remains as close as possible to the likely original without the clarifications or additions made in later copies.
Who is “He” In the Phrase “he promised”
The unspecified “he” in the phrase “he promised” in James 1:12b is most likely referring to God, given the broader context of the New Testament and the specific context of the Epistle of James.
Contextually, James primarily discusses God as the giver of good gifts (James 1:5, 1:17) and the One who blesses those who remain steadfast under trial (James 1:12). He doesn’t specifically name Jesus in this immediate context.
Moreover, in the wider New Testament context, eternal life or the “crown of life” is often associated with God’s promise. For instance, in 1 Timothy 1:16 and Titus 1:2, it is God who is said to give eternal life.
While it’s worth noting that Jesus is identified elsewhere in the New Testament as the one through whom eternal life is given (e.g., John 10:28; 17:2), in the specific context of James 1:12, the promise seems to be directly associated with God.
Therefore, given the immediate and wider context, it’s reasonable to conclude that “he promised” in James 1:12b likely refers to God.
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.
Copyists made some additions to their Greek text at times. They were more inclined to do this than to omit material. One must always carry out careful research of the external and internal evidence to uncover such scribal interpolations. Hence, the most dependable witnesses are from the Alexandrian family of manuscripts found to be the most condensed. On the other hand, the Byzantine family is the most drawn out and extended from scribes taking liberties with the text.
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.
About the Author
- 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),
- 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