Thursday, August 22, 2013

Corrupted Texts.

Through the centuries, changes were made to the Greek text that skewed it in favor of the Trinitarian position. Today, Trinitarian scholars recognize these changes and therefore, they are not included in the Modern Greek texts produced by the United Bible Society [UBS] and the Institute for New Testament Research in Germany, which produces the Nestle-Aland text.

It is important for Christians to know something about the history of the modern New Testament [NT]. None of the original documents written by the apostles exist, and scholars do not believe that any first copies of the originals exist. What do exist are more than 5000 handwritten manuscripts of the Greek NT from the 2nd century onward. Some of these are as small as a piece of a verse, while others are almost the complete NT. The modern NT is translated from a text that was pieced together from more than 5000 Greek manuscripts that have come down to us, as well as manuscripts in other languages such as Latin.

When the Lord gave the revelation of the NT to the various writers—Paul, Peter, Matthew, etc., they either wrote, or dictated to a scribe who wrote, what we would consider “the original text”. This original was copied and sent to churches around the world. It was also translated into various languages spoken by Christians; primarily Latin, Greek and Aramaic.

Until the invention of movable type and the printing press (around 1450 AD) all copies of the Bible were made by hand. A copy of the entire Bible could take a year to write, paper was expensive, and many people could not read or write, so most copies were made by professional scribes. They usually wrote as someone else dictated, and often to a group of scribes. It is easy to see how errors could arise. The speaker could misread a sentence or the scribe could hear incorrectly. Sometimes the scribes did not take their work seriously enough, and that caused many errors in copying. One of the most notable examples of this was in Miniscule Codex 109. The scribe was copying the genealogy in Luke, and instead of copying the columns of names from top to bottom, he copied them across. Thus, in his copy of the Bible, almost everyone has the wrong father, the start of the human race is not God but Phares, and God ends up as the son of Aram!

Honest mistakes can almost always be easily detected. They are usually in the category of spelling or grammatical errors, or they fit some kind of standard mistake pattern such as skipping a line or copying a line twice, or they are obvious in other ways such as in the above example about the genealogy in Luke. A much more serious problem occurred when scribes deliberately changed the text to make it agree with their theology. Although this is very serious, most Christians are unaware that these changes were made. Most ministers do not mention the subject. They have trouble getting people to believe the Bible at all, and usually do not want to introduce any idea that might cause people to doubt the Scriptures.

Another reason for their silence is that few ministers, and even fewer churchgoers, are prepared to do textual research, which requires sifting through the manuscripts and arguments to be able to discern genuine Scripture from errors and forgeries.

Christians need to be aware that of the more than 5000 handwritten Greek manuscripts, no two of them are exactly the same. However, most of the differences are very minor, like spelling and/or punctuation. Other differences, however, are not minor, cannot be easily resolved, and have caused arguments among Christians as to that which is actually Scripture. This is one of the major reasons there are differences between versions such as the New International Version [NIV] and King James Version [KJV].

Scholars today have computers that they use to compare the various texts. Compared to even 100 years ago, it is now much easier to sort the manuscripts, determine the dates they were produced, and discover where, when and how changes and errors were introduced. As scholars have compared the texts in their efforts to reconstruct the original, a startling pattern has emerged. It is apparent that Trinitarian scribes consistently changed the text to make it more Trinitarian. The evidence shows that these changes were not accidental, but done purposely. This appendix is a sampling of some of the clearer changes that have been made to Greek manuscripts to support the Trinitarian position. Most Trinitarian scholars today have recognized all of the examples given below as errors produced by prejudiced scribes. For that reason, they do not appear in either the Greek text produced by the UBS or the one produced by the Institute for NT Research in Germany. Nevertheless, the extent of this list shows very clearly that as the NT was transmitted, scribes would change the text to support their theological position.

The impact of these changes cannot be overestimated. Scholars today, doing computer analysis of the more than 5000 Greek texts available to them, recognize these changes to the text. In the earlier centuries of Christianity, however, a variant manuscript could have “won the day” in a debate and further established Trinitarian doctrine, resulting in excommunication, banishment or death for the “heretic” who lost the debate. [Of note is the fact that both Catholics and Reformists were involved in widespread persecutions of not only non-Christians—e.g., Inquisitions—but also of fellow believers for their “heretical” and “blasphemous” claims]#.

The changes also illustrate an attitude toward the text that would astound most Christians today. The idea of changing the Word of God to make it say what one wants it to say is appalling to most Christians. Misreading it or misunderstanding it is one thing, but few Christians would actually take a pen and change the text so that it agreed with their teaching. Yet that is what history shows us Trinitarian scribes did. The best way to use this appendix is in conjunction with different Bible versions#.


Matthew 1:18: “The origin [genesis] of Jesus the Messiah was like this…” [TNIV]

· Matthew records the “origin” of Jesus Christ. Trinitarians who were uncomfortable with “genesis” (beginning, origin, birth) changed it to “gennesis” (“birth”).

“The first question to be asked, then, is which of the readings the original is more likely. In addition to claiming the earliest and best manuscript support, the reading genesis seems to cohere better with the preceding context. Matthew began his Gospel by detailing the ‘book of the genesis’ of Jesus Christ [i.e., his genealogical lineage; 1:1], making it somewhat more likely that he would here [v.18] continue with a description of the genesis itself. And so the majority of textual scholars agree that gennesis represents a textual corruption, created perhaps out of deference to the following account of Jesus’ birth. [Also see Metzger, Textual Commentary, pg. 8]

At the same time, something more profound may be occurring here. Both genesis and gennesis can mean “birth”, so that either one could be appropriate in the context. But unlike the corrupted reading, genesis can also mean “creation”, “beginning” and “origination”. When one now asks why scribes might take umbrage at Matthew’s description of the genesis of Jesus Christ, the answer immediately suggests itself: the original text could well be taken to imply that this is the moment in which Jesus Christ comes into [existence]. In point of fact, there is nothing in Matthew’s narrative, either here or elsewhere throughout the Gospel, to suggest that he knew or subscribed to the notion that Christ had existed prior to his birth.

Orthodox scribes found Matthew’s account useful nonetheless, particularly in conjunction with statements of the Fourth Gospel supporting the notion of Jesus’ existence with the Father prior to his appearance in the flesh. The orthodox doctrine, of course, represented a conflation of these early Christological views, so that Jesus was confessed to have become “incarnate [Gospel of John] through the virgin Mary [Gospels of Matthew and Luke]”. Anyone subscribing to this doctrine might well look askance at the implication that Matthew was here describing Jesus’ origination and might understandably have sought to clarify the text by substituting a word that ‘meant’ the same thing, but that was less likely to be misconstrued.”# [Erhman, Orthodox Corruption, pgs. 75-76]

Matthew 24:36: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” [NIV]

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” [KJV]
· Scribes were uncomfortable with the fact that the text said that Jesus did not know the future, so the phrase “nor the Son” was omitted from “no one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” That omission is reflected in the KJV, but scholars now recognize it belongs in the text, and the Modern Greek text includes it, as do most modern versions.
“Although the phrase ‘nor the Son’ [oude ho uios] is found in the earliest and best representatives of the Alexandrian, Caesarian, and Western traditions, it is lacking in the great bulk of manuscripts, including most of the Byzantine. The omission must have been made quite early, as it is attested in Origen and a number of versional witnesses [most of the Syriac and Coptic, along with the Latin Vulgate].

Some critics have argued that this shorter text is original to Matthew, because the disputed phrase oude ho uios occurs in the Marcan parallel [Mar 13:32], where its attestation is secure. According to this view, the fact that scribes by and large left the phrase intact in Mark shows that they were not troubled by its potentially adoptionistic overtones [viz., that Jesus, as a mere man, did not know when the end would come]; they therefore must have modified the Matthean form into conformity with its Marcan parallel.

As plausible as this argument may appear, most textual critics have not found it convincing. For one thing, it is not entirely true to say that scribes did not take offense at the phrase in Mark: it is sometimes omitted there as well. Furthermore, it is understandably lacking more frequently in manuscripts of Matthew than in those of Mark, because Matthew was copied far more often. The popularity of Matthew, in fact, makes scribal harmonization towards Mark, the least copied of the Gospels, a relatively rare phenomenon. If there were a harmonization in this case, one would have expected it to have worked the other direction; that is, if Matthew originally lacked the phrase and Mark had it, one would expect scribes to omit it in Mark.

Moreover, not only is the phrase oude ho ouihos found in our earliest and best manuscripts of Matthew, it is also necessary on internal grounds. As Metzger notes, the phrase forms the second half of a parenthetical oude…oude clause, so that without it the phrase oude aggeloi tuon ouranuon stands oddly alone in the sentence. This may explain why Luke attests the material in the surrounding verses [of both Mark and Matthew], but omits this verse altogether. If he found the phrase oude ho uios difficult, he could by no means simply omit it without creating a grammatical inconcinnity.

That the phrase in Matthew was seen as problematic by Christian scribes is demonstrated with particular clarity by the history of codex Sinaiticus. The original hand of the manuscript included the phrase, a corrector erased it, and a second corrector restored it. The reason scribes in general found the phrase problematic should be self-evident: it suggest that the Son of God is not all-knowing and could be used therefore by abortionists to argue that Jesus was not himself divine. It should be stressed that although the phrase would have continued to be problematic in later times, for example, during the Arian controversy, it was omitted much earlier, before the Christological debates of the 4th century:

It is lacking in the Diatesseron# and Origen; and in a range of versional witnesses whose convergence is inexplicable apart from the existence of their common text at least as early as the late 2nd century. The change that was initially made during the adoptionistic controversies then became the standard text of the Middle Ages.” [Ehrman, Orthodox Corruption, pgs. 91-92]

Mark 1:10: “And when he came up out of the water, at once he [John] saw the heavens torn open and the [Holy] Spirit like a dove coming down [to enter; Literal translation of eis] into Him.” [AB]

“As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.” [NIV]

· That the spirit came, “eis” (“fully to” or “into”), was changed to “epi” (“upon”, “on”). The difference between “into” and “upon” [“on”] was clear to some early Christians. The spirit coming “into” Christ made it more likely that Christ was “adopted” as God’s Son, than if the spirit simply came “upon” him. So the “eis” was changed to “epi.” The Trinity is so firmly established today that even though the Greek texts read “into,” the NIV reads “on”. The Amplified Bible does read “into,” and has a note saying that the Greek text reads that way. [see above]

“This is the text found in the earliest and best representatives of the Alexandrian and Western traditions, and it is nearly impossible to explain its provenance, if the variant tradition [“on”, “upon”=epi] found in the bulk of the Byzantine manuscripts is original. Whether Mark himself understood the event in this way is not the question…It is worth noting, however, that both Matthew and Luke changed the preposition to epi [“upon”].

The existence of this variant expression within the Synoptic tradition provided scribes of the 2nd century with just the opportunity they needed to circumvent a possible “misuse” of the account in Mark#. It would thus be a mistake to see the change reflected in the Byzantine tradition as a simple harmonization; as in all such cases, one must ask why scribes would have wanted to modify a reading peculiar to one of the Gospels. In this instance the reason is not at all difficult to locate. The text as originally written could be used by Gnostic Christians who, as Irenaeus informs us, appealed to this Gospel in particular to support their seperationist Christologies.

Nor was Mark’s the only account susceptible to such changes. Not even the preposition epi could escape a Gnostic construal, because the Spirit “coming upon” Jesus could well be taken to mean that it “empowered” him. And so it is not surprising to find that a number of the early witnesses change the preposition in Mat 3:16 to the still less ambiguous pros. Now the Spirit simply comes to Jesus#.
One other change that Matthew made when redacting his Marcan source concerns the intriguing comparative particle vV [the Spirit descended “like” a dove], which he modified to vsei. Although the terms appear to have been interchangeable throughout the manuscript tradition of the NT, it is difficult to maintain that there is absolutely no difference in nuance. Outside the writings of the NT, at least, vsei is generally to be construed as the less definite and more hypothetical of the two, and if the NT authors themselves saw the words as identical, it is somewhat difficult to explain why Matthew made the change in the first place. By using vsei, Matthew may be distancing himself from the possible understanding that the Spirit actually assumed the form of a dove when he descended upon Jesus. Now the Spirit descends “as if” it were a dove. This understanding of the change leads to an important question of the textual tradition: when later scribes changed the vV of Mar 1:11 and Lu 3:22 to make it conform with Matthew’s vsei, were they motivated in part by a comparable interest, especially in light of the Gnostic construal of the event? There is actual evidence to suggest that the actual manifestation of the Spirit “as a dove” proved amenable to certain groups of Gnostics, who used the text to authorize their seperationist construal of the event.

We are best informed of the Marcosians, a group of Valentinian Gnostics attuned to the numerological significance of the divinely inspired words of the biblical text. In a passage filled with invective and wit, Irenaeus details the Marcosian exegesis of the descent of the dove#.

We have no way of knowing how many other Christians of the 2nd and 3rd centuries subscribed to this construal of the event#. What is clear is that both Mark and Luke are susceptible to it. And so the change of the phrase in numerous witnesses of both Gospels may reflect something more than the linguistic predilection or harmonistic tendencies of scribes. It may reflect the strategy detected throughout the manuscript tradition of the Gospels of distancing the text from possible Gnostic construal by means of slight literary modifications. Now rather than descending “as a dove” the Spirit descends “as if it were a dove””. [Ehrman, Orthodox Corruption, pgs. 141-143]

Mark 3:11: “You are the Son of God” was altered by scribes to read “You are God, the Son of God” to help support the Trinitarian position.

Luke 2:26: “That Simeon would see “the Lord’s Christ” was changed to read “Christ, namely God.”

Luke 2:33: “And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him.” [KJV]

“The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him.” [NIV]

· Copyists changed “Father” to “Joseph” in many manuscripts. They thought this would “clear up” any possible confusion about the father of Jesus.

Luke 2:41: “Parents” was changed by scribes to read “Joseph and Mary,” lest someone become confused about Jesus’ “real” parents.

Luke 2:43: “Parents” was changed to “Joseph and his mother,” or other similar readings. Also, “the boy Jesus” was changed to “the boy, the Lord Jesus,” because if Jesus were God, then he had to be Lord from his birth.

Luke 2:48: “Father and I” was altered to either “we,” or “Joseph and I,” or “your relatives,” etc., lest anyone be confused about the real father of Jesus.

“Joseph is called Jesus’ father twice in Luke’s narrative [2:33, 48]. In both instances scribes have modified the text to eliminate what must have appeared incongruous with the firmly entrenched notion that although Joseph was Mary’s bethroned, he was not the father of Jesus. Thus, Lu 2:33 states that Jesus’ “father and mother began to marvel”. The change makes perfect sense, given the orthodox view that Joseph was in fact not Jesus’ father. There can be little doubt that in this case the majority text represents a corruption rather than the original reading: a wide range of early and superior manuscripts consistently give the reading that is also more difficult. The wide attestation of the variant reading and the confluence of ancient versions in its support, however, do show that the text had been changed relatively early in the history of its transmission, at least in the 3rd century and more likely in the 2nd—precisely during the time of the adoptionist controversies.

This widespread evidence of corruption contrasts with the other instance in which Joseph is called Jesus’ father in Luke’s birth narrative. In Lu 2:48…once again the text has been changed, but this time in no consistent pattern of variation. One important but fragmentary Greek witness of the 5th century and 2 Old Latin manuscripts [attest to this]. Here again the character of the attestation—the combination of an Alexandrian witness with Old Latin and Syriac texts—shows that the reading had already suffered corruption during the period of our concern; yet interestingly the change was not adopted by the majority of manuscripts that evidence corruption in v.33.

Two general observations concerning these units of variation suggest what we will find throughout the course of this study. The changes appear to be made at an early date for theological reasons#, yet they occur randomly in various textual witnesses, not at all with the kind of consistency one might expect. Similar results obtain when we cast our nests a little further to consider two kinds of closely related passages: those that speak of Jesus’ ‘parents’ [goneis] in the birth narratives, and those that name Joseph as Jesus’ father in other contexts.

In each of the 3 instances that Luke refers to Jesus’ ‘parents’, various scribes have effected changes that circumvent a possible misconstrual. The most widely attested instances occur in Lu 2:43, where his “parents” [goneis autou] is changed to “Joseph and his mother” [Iosef kai e meter autou] in a wide range of Greek and versional witnesses. Virtually the same phrase is changed, less frequently, in Lu 2:41, where one Late Greek manuscript and a number of Old Latin witnesses read “both Joseph and Mary”. The first occurrence of the phrase in 2:27, however, is modified only in several witnesses of the Diatesseron and is omitted in several Greek miniscules of a later period.” [Ehrman, Orthodox Corruption, pgs. 55-56]

Luke 3:21:
· Scribes changed “Jesus,” who came to be baptized, to “the Lord,” because of the emphasis that the word “Jesus” placed on his humanity.

Luke 4:22: “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” was omitted entirely, or was changed to “Isn’t this a son of Israel.”

Luke 7:9:
· Scribes changed “When Jesus heard this” to “when God heard this,” to make Jesus into God.

Luke 8:28: “Jesus, Son of the Most High God” was changed to “Jesus, the Most High God” so that there would be clear “proof” that Christ was God.

Luke 8:40: “Now when Jesus returned” was changed to “when God returned.”

Luke 9:20: “You are the Christ of God” was changed to “You are Christ, God.”

Luke 9:35: “And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, this is my beloved Son: hear him.” [KJV]

“A voice came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him." [NIV]

· Scribes altered the phrase “I have chosen” to “my beloved”. This is a subtle change, but it takes the emphasis off the fact that Jesus was chosen by God, which some people recognized does not make sense if Jesus is God.

“Here the textual situation is less problematic, because early and superior witnesses attest the reading that again could have proved susceptible to an adoptionistic construal. One can scarcely account for the reading ‘my Son, the one who has been chosen [eklelegmenos]’ if it is not original. The word eklelegmenos is not used in this way elsewhere in the NT, yet, as has been seen, it portrays a distinctive Lukan conceptualization of Jesus. And of all the available readings, it alone is not harmonized to one Synoptic parallel or another: the widely attested ho uios mou ho agapetos is harmonized to Mar 9:7, the less popular ho uios mou ho agapetos en o eudokesa to Mat 17:5 and the Cesarean eklektos to Lu 23:35. The vast majority of textual scholars therefore accept the earliest reading as original.

Why then was it changed? Not simply to make the Gospel texts harmonious. If this were the case, one would expect the alternative process to have happened as well—that is, harmonization of Mark and Matthew to the text of Luke. The magnitude of the textual changes in Luke, coupled with the virtual absence of such changes in Mark or Matthew, suggests that the change was made for doctrinal reasons pure and simple—to eliminate the potential adoptionistic overtones of the text.” [Ehrman, Orthodox, pgs. 67-68]

John 10:33: Scribes added the definite article to the word theos, “god,” in manuscript “p66”. Theos without the article means “god” and is translated as such in verses like John 10:34-35; Acts 12:22; 28:6. Adding the definite article changes “god” to “God.” Most modern translators ignore the fact that the Greek text reads “god” and not “God,” and thus “God” is what appears in almost every modern version.

John 14:9: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” was modified by scribes to avoid the Modalist interpretation that Christ was a form of God and not a member of the “Godhead.” They modified the text by adding the word “also” after the word “Father.” This is a change that supports what has become the modern Trinitarian position against the position now held by Oneness Pentecostals, but the change in the text is recognized by modern scholars and thus was not included in the Modern Greek text.

John 19:5: “Behold the man” was either omitted entirely or changed to “Behold a man” to avoid the fact that Jesus was known as a man.

“If this sentence were lacking from just one witness, it could perhaps be explained as an accidental omission. But the fact that it is absent from one of our earliest witnesses should alert us to the possibility of a deliberate modification of the text. There is nothing here, such as homoeoteleuton or homoeoarcton that might account for an accidental agreement in error. If the omission were not made by accident, why would it have been made deliberately?

In codex Vaticanus the definite article has dropped out, so that Pilate is now recorded as saying, ‘Behold, a man’ [idou anthropos]. While there is nothing to commend this singular reading as original, it does make for an interesting shift in meaning. Now, rather than pointing to Jesus as ‘the man’ that the Jewish leaders want to have destroyed, Pilate indicates that the mocked and beaten Jesus is only a man [‘See, he is mortal’]. If the reading now preserved in codex Vaticanus once had a wider currency, then the deletion of the entire sentence makes considerable sense. Scribes found its implication troubling; for them, even though Jesus had been bloodied and reviled, he was not a mere mortal. Pilate’s statement to the contrary could best be dismissed by being excised.” [Ehrman, Orthodox, pgs. 94, 237]

John 19:40: Scribes changed “Jesus’ body” to “God’s body.”

“The scribe of codex Alexandrinus, perhaps in an inadvertent slip, but one that is nonetheless telling, substitutes theou for Iesou, with the result that they “took the body of God and bound it”. Whether deliberate or not, this kind of change could function in a number of ways for orthodox Christians: it could counter a docetic notion [because Jesus as God really has a body] or even a seperationist view such as that embraced by some groups of Gnostics [because Jesus’ divinity has not left him, even upon death].

But perhaps above all, the change, whether an accidental slip or a calculated alteration, functions to express the orthodox notion that Jesus himself is God in the flesh.” [Ehrman, Orthodox, pg. 83]

Acts 2:30: “But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne.” [TNIV]

“Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;” [KJV]

· “One of his [David’s] descendants” was changed to “of the fruit of his heart [loins],” i.e., like David, to avoid the idea that Jesus had a human descent.

Acts 10:37: “The baptism that John preached” was changed to “after the preaching of John” to disassociate the anointing of Jesus (v. 38) with his baptism. It was at his baptism that the spirit came on Jesus and he was “anointed” (and thus became “Messiah” or “Christ”). Most Trinitarians are uncomfortable with Jesus not becoming the Christ until his baptism, so some scribes simply disassociated the two events by removing the baptism from the verse.

Acts 13:33: “By raising up Jesus” was changed to “by raising up Jesus Christ.” This change to the text avoided the “problem” that Jesus was not thought by some to be the Christ until his resurrection.

Acts 20:28: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” [NIV]

“Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.” [ASV]

“Take care and be on guard for yourselves and the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you bishops and guardians, to shepherd the church of the Lord or of God which He obtained for Himself with His own blood.” [AB]

This verse has been represented in many ways in different Greek texts, making it obvious that scribes were changing the text. The challenge to modern scholars is to try to discover the original reading among all the variant readings. The major variant readings are:

1. “The church of God which He purchased with the blood of His own (Son).”
2. “The church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”
3. “The church of the Lord which He purchased with His own blood.”
4. “The church of the Lord and God which He purchased with His own blood.”

There is no reference anywhere in the Bible to “the blood of God.” This reading, already suspect on textual grounds, thus becomes suspect on logical grounds also. The scholars who author the United Bible Society Greek Text, as well as those who author the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament, all agree that “tou haimatos tou idiou” (reading #1 above) is original. As the Trinitarian debate raged, it would have been quite easy for a scribe to change “tou haimatos tou idiou” (the blood of his own) to “tou idiou haimatos” (his own blood, #2 above) by moving a word and omitting the article “tou”.

However, the textual evidence indicates that once the reading, “His own blood” was created, other scribes were uncomfortable with the idea of God having blood, and thus “God” was changed to “Lord” (# 3 above). This reading makes sense, but the textual evidence is clear that this was a later change and not original. Then, scribes copying the verse had another problem: some of the texts they were to copy from read “God” and some of them read “Lord,” so rather than choosing one or the other, “the Lord and God” was created (reading #4) as a conflation of #2 and #3.

It is interesting that although the Greek text from which the NIV was translated read as #1 above, the translators nevertheless translated it as if the Greek read as #2, strongly supporting their Trinitarian position. Nevertheless, in the notes at the bottom of the NIV Study Bible, the commentators admit that the phrase refers to the blood of God’s Son, and not God Himself. They write, “‘His own blood’; Lit. ‘the blood of His own [one], a term of endearment (such as ‘his own dear one,’ referring to His own Son).’”

1 Cor 5:7: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” [KJV]

“Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb has been sacrificed.” [NIV]

The original text read “Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.” In some texts, scribes added the words “for us” at the end of the phrase to avoid the implication that Jesus’ own sins might be included.

1 Cor 15:45: “So it is written: "The first Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.” [TNIV]

“So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, became a living soul". The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” [NASB]

· “The first man, Adam” was changed by scribes to read, “the first, Adam” to get rid of the word “man,” since by grammatical implication Christ would then have to be a man also.

1 Cor 15:47: “The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.” [KJV]

“The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.” [NIV]

“The second man from heaven” was changed in various ways: “the second man, the Lord from heaven” or “the second, the Lord from heaven” or “the second man is spiritual,” etc. The variety of ways this verse has come down to us today shows that it was not just one or two scribes changing the text but rather a number of unscrupulous scribes who thought their theological position was more important than the authority of the Word of God. Any verse stating that Jesus was a man was “a thorn in the side” of the developing Trinitarian position, and attempts were made to expunge these from the text. Thankfully, through modern scholarship, the original reading is agreed upon by scholars.
Each of these changes functions similarly by emphasizing the difference between Adam and Christ: Christ is not just another man, a second creation of God that surpasses the first. He is the “Lord-man”, the “spiritual man”, the “heavenly man”. Again, it is difficult to account for these changes apart from assuming an orthodox tendency to portray Jesus as far more than human [i.e. God Almighty Himself].

The same tendency may have affected the more subtle change 2 verses earlier [1 Cor 15:45]…perhaps because the contrast with the anti-type Christ might then suggest that he too was a [created] anthropos. In both instances, it should once again be stressed that although the corrupted text may have served a useful function in later contexts, such as the Arian controversy, the textual data demonstrate that it was actually generated much earlier, at least by the beginning of the 3rd century.” [Ehrman, Orthodox, pg. 95]

Gal 2:20: “By faith in the Son of God” was changed in several ways, such as: “in God, Christ,” or “in God, the Son.”

“Some critics have thought that [this] corrupted text was created in 2 stages. The miniscule manuscript 330 attests the corrupted text, but omits the phrase kai Christou [reading therefore, en pistei zo te tou theou, “I live in the faith of God, who…”]. This makes for an interesting reading indeed, for now God is said to have loved Paul and given himself up [=died] for him. Here is a clear orthodox statement that Jesus is divine. Metzger has suggested that some such error occurred early in the tradition, when a scribe inadvertently omitted the two words tou uiou. A later scribe, realizing the error of his exemplar’s ways, sought to correct the problem by emending the text. Reasoning that the passage must have originally said something about “Christ”, the scribe appended the words “and Christ” to the end, thereby creating a corruption of a corruption, namely, the reading “faith in God [and/even] Christ who loved me…” Furthermore, another scribe corrected the text differently, by adding precisely the words that had earlier been omitted, tou uiou, but in the wrong place, making the text now read “faith in God the Son [tou theou tou uiou, MS 1985] who loved me…”

Metzger is surely right that the original text must have read “faith in the Son of God who loved me”. Not only does this reading explain all the others, but it also is the only one that coincides with Paul’s theology. Nowhere does Paul speak of God as the object of Christian faith, and neither of the other expressions [“God even Christ”, “God the Son”] occurs in this way in Paul. Interestingly for our purposes, even if these various corruptions were generated accidentally, all of them can be construed as orthodox. As we have seen, even accidental changes can function in important ways, and one must always ask what kind of scribe might have created such readings, and how he might have understood them once he did.

Of course, the singular readings have no claim to authenticity, and these appear to be the most orthodox of all: the one speaks of “God” and the other of “God the Son” “who…gave himself up for me”. The more commonly attested variant, however, is also easy to construe as orthodox: here an anarthrous Christos is made to follow ho theos. Since “Christ” lacks the article, the erring scribe seems to be equating the 2 names, using them to refer to the same person, not to 2 separate individuals. the phrase is probably best translated, then, “faith in God, even Christ, who loved me and gave himself up for me”, As a result, even if these changes were generated accidentally, they end up conveying a notion that the Christ who effects salvation is none other than God.

It is noteworthy that the corruption can be dated firmly to the 3rd century, and that it occurs in early witnesses of both the Alexandrian and “Western” texts.” [Ehrman, Orthodox, pgs. 86-87]

Eph 3:9: “And to make all men see what the fellowship of the mystery is, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ.” [KJV]

“And to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.” [NIV-UK]

“God who created all things” was changed to “God who created all things through Jesus Christ.”

Col 2:2: “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.” KJV

“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ...” [NIV]

· This verse, although not usually considered a Trinitarian verse, is occasionally used to show that the mystery of God is Christ (i.e., that Christ is God and Man, thus a “mystery”).

“Of all the letters attributed to Paul, his letter to the Colossians contains proportionally the greatest number of textual problems. The close of Col 2:2 presents, what is, at first, a bewildering variety of readings; the manuscripts present 15 different conclusions of the phrase eis epilnosin tou musterion…(‘to the knowledge of the mystery of…’):

A 1) tou Theo Christou p46 B and Hilliers of Portiers
2) tou Theou Hp Pp 69 424** 436 462 1912, SahidicBeatty MS.
3) tou Christou 1462.
4) tou Theou ho estin Christou Dp* d e, Augustine.
5) tou Theou ho estin peri Christou Ethiopic.
6) tou Theou tou en Christu 33, Clement.
7) tou Theou tou en Christu Iesou Armenian.
8) tou Theou kai Christou Cyril of Alexandria.
B 9) tou Theou patros Christou א* 216 440.
10) tou Theou patros tou Christou A C 4, Sahidic, Bohairic.
11) tou Theou kai patros tou Christou אc, Syrh.
12) tou Theou patros kai tou Chirstou 441 1908 Syrp, Chrysostom.
13) tou Theou patros kai tou Christou Iesou Vulgate, Bohairiccodd, Pelagius.
14) tou Theou patros kai tou kuriou emun Christou Iesou I Vulgate MS.
15) tou Theou kai patros kai tou Christou DP(c) Ep Kp Lp, most miniscules, Theoderet, & c.

“Of all these variant readings the ne which has been placed first is to be preferred on the basis of both external and internal considerations. Externally, it is supported by the earliest and best Greek manuscripts; internally, the difficulty of interpreting the meaning of the expression tou musterion tou Theou Christou has led to the multiplication of scribal attempts to clarify the sense. An obviously popular expedient was the insertion of the word patros; this addition appears in 7 of the variant readings [those grouped under B]. The insertion of the article before Christou [readings 10-15] is plainly in the interest of making the expression parallel with tou theou. The reading placed last in the list [it lies behind the rendering of the KJV, ‘the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ’], though supported by the largest number of witnesses, is also the weakest, for it is a conflation of the 2 types of amelioration represented in 11 & 12.

If reading 9 were original, then the rise of all 8 readings grouped under A is inexplicable, for why should patros have fallen out? On the contrary, patros was inserted in order to clarify the syntactical relation between Theou and Christou [for reading 1 could mean ‘the knowledge of the mystery of God Christ’, or ‘the knowledge of the mystery of God’s Christ’, or ‘the knowledge of God’s mystery, of Christ’]. Besides, this insertion of patros [readings 9-15] several other attempts were made to explain the relationship of Christou and Theou [4-8]. The scribes responsible for readings 2 & 3 sought to relieve the difficulty by the elimination of one or the other of the two genitives—and in support of 3 the scribe could point to Eph 3:4 as a precedent [tu musteriu tou Christou]. Reading 4 gives what must be the right sense, suggesting that in reading 1 the word Christou is explanatory of tou musteriou tou Theou. Perhaps in dictating the epistle the author separated the word Christou from the preceding phrase by a slight pause for breath, which can be represented in modern printing by a comma. Thus it is possible to explain the other readings on the assumption that reading 1 is original, but this reading cannot be explained as derivative from any of them. Since the external support of 1 is of the best, both as regards age and character, one must conclude that tou Theou Christou is the earliest attainable form of text preserved among the extant witnesses. [Metzger, Text of the NT, pgs. 236-238]

The question that will help solve the translation problem is: “Is there a ‘secret’ in the NT that could be considered the ‘secret of the Christ of God?’” The answer to that question is a definite “Yes.” The word “musterion” is used to refer to the Age of Grace in which we live. Eph 3:2-3 reads, “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery [musterion, “secret”] made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.”

Thus when Colossians mentions “the secret of the Christ of God,” it makes perfect sense to see this as a reference to the Grace Administration, which was a secret hidden before the foundation of the world but revealed to Paul by Christ. For scriptural documentation on this point, see Eph 3:2-9; Col 1:27; Gal 1:11-12.

1 Tim 3:16: “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He [who], who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” [NASB]

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” [KJV]
· “He [who]” was changed to “
God.” This change was very obvious in the texts and is openly admitted by Trinitarian scholars. The change produced a very powerful Trinitarian argument, because the altered text reads, “God was manifested in the flesh,” instead of “He [Jesus; who] was manifested in the flesh,” which is the correct and recognized reading.

“The author of 1 Timothy is almost certainly quoting an earlier creed when he explicates “the mystery of our religion” [to tes eusebeias musterion, 3:16): “He who [hos] was manifest in flesh, justified in spirit; seen by angels, proclaimed among nations; believed in the world, taken up in glory”. Certain stylistic features make this one of the finest specimens of a preliterary creed in all of the NT: its lapidary character (no superfluous words, only verbs, nouns, and the preposition en), the striking syntactical parallelism of its 6 clauses (each formed with an aorist passive verb followed by a nominal construction in the dative), and the dependence of each clause on the introductory relative pronoun. Precisely here, however, is the textual problem; for the relative has been subjected to alteration in the course of the text’s transmission.

In several witnesses the relative has been retained but changed to the neuter, ho [D* 061 d g vg, several church fathers]. The change is understandable: the antecedent is musterion, itself neuter. This variant then, reflects a greater concern for the grammar of the passage than for its contents, since the creed clearly refers to Christ#.

The same cannot be said of the other variant found in a range of witnesses, in which the relative “he [who]” (hos) appears as the nominative singular “God” (theos)#. The change, of course, may have been created accidentally. As one of the nomina sacra, theos would normally be abbreviated as ΘΣ, making a confusion with the orthographically similar ОΣ more than intelligible. But there are reasons for suspecting that the change was not an accident.

It should first be observed that 4 of the uncial witnesses that attest theos do so only in corrections (א A C D). This shows not only that theos was the preferred reading of later scribes but also that it did not creep into the tradition unawares#. Second, we cannot overlook what the reading theos provides for the orthodox scribe—a clear affirmation of the doctrine that God became incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. This certainly is the orthodox “mystery”: it was “God” who was “manifest in flesh, justified in spirit”, etc.

That the reading theos cannot be original is shown both by the character of the manuscript attestation—the earlier and superior manuscripts all support the relative—and by the fact that ancient creedal fragments typically begin precisely in this way, that is, with a relative pronoun#. The change must have been made fairly early, at least during the 3rd century, given its widespread attestation from the 4th century on#. It can therefore best be explained as an anti-adoptionistic corruption that stresses the deity of Christ#.” [Ehrman, Orthodox Corruption, pgs. 77-78]

Titus 3:6: “Jesus Christ our Savior” was changed to “Jesus Christ our God.”

Heb 1:3: “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:” [KJV]

“The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” [NIV]

Scribes altered the phrase “purification for sins” to “purification for our sins” to avoid the parallel between Christ and the Levitical priests who provided purification for their own sins as well as those of the people.

“The passage contains several interesting textual variants, of which the prepositional phrase “through himself” [di eautou] is of particular relevance to the present discussion. The phrase is wanting in a number of important manuscripts of predominantly Alexandrian cast [א B Y 33 81], but is present in the earliest form of that tradition [p46 1739 Ath] as well as in the leading representatives of other text types [D 0121b Byz a b syr cop].

Witnesses that lack the phrase have in its stead the personal pronoun autou, which is to be understood as going with the preceding clause [“his power”]; codex Bezae and nearly the entire Byzantine tradition conflate the two readings.

The antiquity and diversity of the witnesses that support the prepositional phrase [“through himself”] speak in its favor, and here it should be observed that the two manuscripts that appear to have stood against the rest of the Greek tradition in 2:9 [0121b 1739] stand together here as well, both of them including the phrase to the exclusion of the pronoun, this time in the company of the earliest manuscript, p46.One can readily understand how the prepositional phrase, coming at the beginning of the clause, could cause some confusion for scribes unaccustomed to the classical style. This may have led to its modification into the possessive attached to the preceding clause [“his power”]; the change is easier to explain as having occurred in this direction, with the omission of the preposition, than in the other, with tis addition. But as Zuntz notes, the resulting construction destroys the hendiadys of the original [to pnua tes dunameus, “the powerful word”] and shifts the focus away from its subject, the Son of God. In fact, precisely this shift suggest that scribes found more than the grammatical style of the original problematic; indeed, in view of the comparable pattern of attestation in 2:9 [0121b 1739], one has grounds for suspecting a theological motivation for the corruption. The phrase di eautou would normally be taken to mean “by his own effort, from no assistance from outside”. In other words, Jesus is said to have taken on himself the task of procuring a cleansing for sins without any [divine] assistance. After accomplishing his work, he was exalted to God’s right hand.

This understanding of the ancient hymn makes good sense in Hebrews, but given its serviceability in the hands of Gnostics, one can understand the natural inclination of scribes to effect a modification. For if Jesus’ work was accomplished di eautou, one might infer that the divine element had left him prior to its consummation. To avoid such a construal, orthodox scribes simply dropped the preposition and changed the reflexive to a personal pronoun. By omitting 2 or 3 letters they obviated a potential problem, much as they eliminated the problem of 2:9 by making a comparably unobtrusive change. It comes as no surprise to find the corruption attested predominantly in manuscripts of Alexandria, where Gnostics made such significant inroads during the 2nd century, when the change must have been effected.” [Ehrman, Orthodox Corruption, pgs. 150-151]

Heb 2:18: Although the verse reads, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted,” the words “when he was tempted” were omitted by some scribes. As the theology that Jesus was God developed, so did the doctrine that Jesus was not able to sin. Thus a reference to him being tempted became a problem, and omitting the phrase in the text was a simple solution.

“As Christians became increasingly convinced of Jesus’ full deity, they became correspondingly certain not only that he did not sin but that he, as God, was absolutely removed from the realm of sin. In the words of Tertullian:

“Some people are very bad, and some very good; but yet the souls of all form but one genus: even in the worst there is something good, and in the best there is something bad. For God alone is without sin; and the only person without sin is Christ, since Christ is also God (Treatise on the Soul 41).
This orthodox conviction made some impact on the text of the NT, as scribes modified certain passages that might carry with them the implication that Jesus as a full flesh and blood human being was liable to sin.

Several such modifications appear in manuscripts of the Epistle to the Hebrews. There is little doubt concerning the original text of Heb 2:18: “Because [Jesus] himself suffered, having been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted”. In the preceding verse Jesus is described as being like his human kindred in all things, so he might be merciful to them and become a faithful high priest before God on their behalf, to offer expiation for their sins. In such a context, in which Jesus is said to be like other humans, the statement that he suffered after being “tempted” [peirastheis] could understandably cause some confusion#. Indeed, one natural way to read v. 18 [“he suffered, having been tempted”] is that Jesus’ difficulty in withstanding temptation is what led to his suffering. It comes then as no surprise to find the original hand of codex Sinaiticus circumventing the problem simply by deleting the particle peirastheis.

The omission could have been accidental; it was corrected by a later hand. But it is nonetheless intriguing: without it the text does not say that Jesus was tempted, only that he suffered#.” [Ehrman, Orthodox Corruption, pgs. 95-96]

Heb 13:20: “Our Lord Jesus” was changed to “Our God Jesus.”

1 Peter 3:18: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:” [KJV]

“For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit” [NIV]

· See commentary under 1 Pe 4:1 regarding the variant phrase “suffered for sins” [KJV] and “died for sins” [NIV].

1 Peter 4:1: “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;” [KJV]

“Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.” [NIV]

· “Christ suffered” was changed to “Christ suffered for us.” As the doctrine of the Trinity developed, it became more and more important for Trinitarians to show his perfection and godhood in life. Thus the words “for us” were added by scribes, lest someone think that somehow his suffering might have benefited him in some way.

“…it is peculiar that when 1 Peter uses pascho to refer to Christ’s suffering, 3 out of 4 texts were changed [2:21; 3:18; 4:1; the exception is 2:23], whereas when it uses the same word to describe the suffering of Christians—8 occurrence in all—it is never changed [2:19-20; 3:14, 17; 4:1b{?}, 15, 19; 5:10]. This appears to be more than an accident. Moreover, the changes can be traced back to the period of concern—directly in 3:18, with the attestation of p72 and a wide range of early Greek and versional evidence; indirectly in 2:21 with codex Sinaiticus, the Palestinian Syriac, and a smattering of Greek, Latin and Armenian witnesses#. The same change, it should also be noted, occurs in Heb 9:26 in Sahidic and several Medieval Greek manuscripts.

If the tendency to make this change can be traced back to the late 2nd century or 3rd century and is not accidental but intentional, how can it be explained? Certainly the notion that Christ “suffered” [pathein] is orthodox. But one wonders if it is not also susceptible to a peculiarly Gnostic construal as well, since the time of his indwelling of Jesus is for the Christ a time of suffering#.

To say that Christ actually “died”, however, is a clearly orthodox notion, even though, to be sure, it too could be reinterpreted by Gnostic Christians in any way they might choose. The point, of course, is not that the orthodox emphasis may or may not have proved rhetorically effective. The point is that we know what the orthodox emphasis was. The changes in 1 Peter and Hebrews, then, may well be attributed to the orthodox emphasis on the “death” of Christ” [Ehrman, Orthodox Corruption, pgs. 154-155]

1 John 3:23: The text reads “that we should believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another.” In some texts, the scribes omitted “Son” so that the text would read “believe in his [i.e., God’s] name, Jesus Christ,” thus equating Jesus with God.

“Several witnesses, however, including codex Alexandrinus, lack the words tou uiou. Although it is certainly possible that the 2 words dropped out of the passage by accident, there seems to be no particular reason [e.g., homoeoteleuton] for them to have done so#. It is plausible, then, that the scribes of these manuscripts simply took the opportunity to express their orthodox conviction: “Jesus Christ” is the name of God.” [Orthodox Corruption, pgs. 83-84]

1 John 5:7-8: This text was markedly changed to reflect the Trinitarian position. Reading the KJV and the NIV shows the differences:

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” [KJV]

“For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” [NIV]

The phrase, “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one,” was added by Trinitarians. The NIV, a very Trinitarian Bible, omits the phrase, and the NIV Study Bible has this note about the verse:

“The addition is not found in any Greek manuscript or NT translation prior to the 16th century.”

Anyone who studies the Reformation carefully knows that in the 1500’s there was a tremendous Unitarian revival, and the Trinitarian position was being challenged. A response to that challenge was to add a Trinitarian phrase in 1 John. Thankfully, modern Trinitarian scholars recognize that addition, and newer versions omit the phrase. Nevertheless, the fact that Trinitarian scholars were so willing to add to the Word of God to win their debate should cause us to examine other “clearly” Trinitarian verses very carefully. The central focus of this variant reading involves Erasmus’ translation of the Greek Testament, printed and published in 1516.

“It cannot be determined exactly when Erasmus first decided to prepare an edition of the Greek Testament, but on a visit to Basle in Aug. 1514 he discussed (probably not for the first time) the possibility of such a volume with the well-known publisher Johann Froben…Doubtless Froben had heard of the forthcoming Spanish Polygot Bible and, sensing that the market was ready for an edition of the Greek NT, wished to capitalize on that demand before Ximenes’ work would be finished and authorized for publication…Going to Basle again in Jul. of 1515, Erasmus hoped to find Greek manuscripts sufficiently good to be sent to the printer as copy to be set up in type along with his own Latin translation…in a remarkably short time (1 Mar. 1515) the entire edition was finished [and] owing to the haste in production, the volume contains hundreds of typographical errors.

The reception accorded Erasmus’ edition, the first published Greek NT, was mixed…in certain circles Erasmus’ work was received with suspicion and even outright hostility#…Particularly objectionable were the brief annotations in which Erasmus sought to justify his translation. He included among the philosophical notes not a few caustic comments aimed at the corrupt lives of many of the priests.

Among the criticisms leveled at Erasmus one of the most serious appeared to be the charge of Stunica, one of the editors of Ximenes’ Complutensian Polygot, that his text lacked part of the final chapter of 1 John, namely the Trinitarian statement concerning ‘the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth’ [v.7-8, KJV].

Erasmus replied that he did not find any Greek manuscript containing these words, though he had in the meanwhile examined several others besides those on which he relied when first preparing his text…Erasmus would insert the Comma Johanneum, as it is called, in future editions if a single manuscript could be found that contained the passage.

At length such a copy was found…a Greek manuscript had probably been written in Oxford about 1520 by a Franciscan friar named Froy (or Roy), who took the disputed words from the Latin Vulgate#. Erasmus inserted the passage in his 3rd edition (1522), but he indicates in a lengthy footnote his suspicions that the manuscript had been prepared expressly in order to confute him#.
Among the thousands of Greek manuscripts of the NT examined since the time of Erasmus, only 3 others are known to contain this spurious passage. They are Greg. 88, a 12th century manuscript which has the Comma written in the margin in a 17th century hand; Tisch. w 110, which is a 16th century manuscript copy of the Complutensian Polygot Greek text; and Greg. 629, dating from the 14th century or, as Riggenbach argued, from the latter half of the 16th century#.

The oldest citation of the Comma is in a 4th century Latin treatise entitled Liber apologeticus (ch. 4), attributed either to Priscillian or to his follower, Bishop Instantius of Spain#. The Comma probably originated as a piece of allegorical exegesis of the 3 witnesses and may have been written as a marginal gloss in a Latin manuscript of 1 John, whence it was taken into the text of the Old Latin Bible during the 5th century. The passage does not appear in manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate before about A.D. 800.
In view of its inclusion in the Clementine edit
ion of the Lain Vulgate (1592), in 1897 the Holy Office in Rome, a high ecclesiastical congregation, made an authoritative pronouncement, approved and confirmed by Pope Leo XIII, that it is not safe to deny that this verse is an authentic part of St. John’s Epistle. Modern Roman Catholic Scholars, however, recognize that the words do not belong in the Greek Testament#; for example, the 4 bilingual editions of the NT that were edited by Bover, Merk, Nolli, and Vogels include the words as part of the Vulgate text approved by the Council of Trent, but reject them from the Greek text that faces the Latin on the opposite page.” [Text of the NT, pgs. 65, 97-103]

The following are more comments from Dr. Bruce M. Metzger, from his book, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2nd ed. (Stuttgart, 1993):

(A) External Evidence.
(1) The passage is absent from every known Greek manuscript except 8, and these contain the passage in what appears to be a translation from a late recension of the Latin Vulgate. Four of the eight manuscripts contain the passage as a variant reading written in the margin as a later addition to the manuscript. The 8 manuscripts are as follows:
· 61: codex Montfortianus, dating from the early 16th century.
· 88: a variant reading in a 16th century hand, added to the 14th century codex Regius of Naples.
· 221: a variant reading added to a 10th century manuscript in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.
· 429: a variant reading added to a 16th century manuscript at Wolfenbüttel.
· 629: a 14th or 15th century manuscript in the Vatican.
· 636: a variant reading added to a 16th century manuscript at Naples.
· 918: a 16th century manuscript at the Escorial, Spain.
· 2318: an 18th century manuscript influenced by the Clementine Vulgate, at Bucharest, Rumania.
(2) The passage is quoted by none of the Greek Fathers, who, had they known it, would most certainly have employed it in the Trinitarian controversies (Sabellian and Arian). Its first appearance in Greek is in a Greek version of the (Latin) Acts of the Lateran Council in 1215#.
(3) The passage is absent from the manuscripts of all ancient versions (Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, Ethiopic, Arabic, Slavonic), except the Latin; and it is not found (a) in the Old Latin in its early form (Tertullian Cyprian Augustine), or in the Vulgate (b) as issued by Jerome (codex Fuldensis [copied ad 541-46] and codex Amiatinus [copied before ad 716]) or (c) as revised by Alcuin (first hand of codex Vallicellianus [9th century]).

The earliest instance of the passage being quoted as a part of the actual text of the Epistle is in a fourth 4th Latin treatise entitled Liber Apologeticus (chap. 4), attributed either to the Spanish heretic Priscillian (died about 385) or to his follower Bishop Instantius#. Apparently the gloss arose when the original passage was understood to symbolize the Trinity (through the mention of three witnesses: the Spirit, the water, and the blood), an interpretation that may have been written first as a marginal note that afterwards found its way into the text. In the 5th century the gloss was quoted by Latin Fathers in North Africa and Italy as part of the text of the Epistle, and from the 6th century onwards it is found more and more frequently in manuscripts of the Old Latin and of the Vulgate.

In these various witnesses the wording of the passage differs in several particulars. (For examples of other intrusions into the Latin text of 1 John, see 2.17; 4.3; 5.6, and 20.)

(B) Internal Probabilities.
(1) As regards transcriptional probability, if the passage were original, no good reason can be found to account for its omission, either accidentally or intentionally, by copyists of hundreds of Greek manuscripts, and by translators of ancient versions.
(2) As regards intrinsic probability, the passage makes an awkward break in the sense.

Jude 5: “The Lord delivered his people out of Egypt” was changed to “Jesus delivered” in a few manuscripts to make Jesus exist in the Old Testament.

Manuscripts vary over whether it was “the Lord” [most manuscripts], or “Jesus”, or “God” who saved the people from Egypt (variations that are all applicable from the OT Testament narratives themselves and from early Christian understandings of them, at least as intimated in 1 Cor 10), p72 stands alone in saying that the Savior of the people from Egypt was “the God Christ” (Theos Christions).

It is important to repeat again that all the above changes have been discovered and excluded from the newest versions of the Greek NT and from almost all modern versions. Christians owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who [continue to] work to computerize the texts to make them easy to work with and compare. Gratitude is also owed to the honest scholars who work the texts and draw their conclusions from the textual evidence rather than from tradition. These men and women could “fudge” their data to cloak the Trinitarian changes to the text and thus, in some cases, further their own theology. But the modern versions of the Greek NT attest to their honesty in trying to restore the original text.

Works Cited

Augustine, Augustine of Hippo Selected Writings, Trans. Mary T. Clark, Paulist Press, 1984
Bentley, Jerry, H., Humanists and Holy Writ: New Testament Scholarship in the Renaissance, Princeton Press, 1983

Braght, TJ van., Sohm, J F., Martyrs Mirror: The Story of Seventeen Centuries of Christian Martyrdom from the Time of Christ to A.D. 1660, Herald Pub. 2005

Buzzard, A. & Hunting, C. F., The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity’s Self-Inflicted Wound, Int. Scholars Pub., 1998

Clement, of Alexandria St., Fragments of Clemens Alexandrinus, Trans. Wilson, Rev. William, M.A., T & T Clark Pub. 1872

Dunn, James, D.G., Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation, 2nd ed., SCM-Canterbury Press Ltd, 1989

Ehrman, B., The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, Oxford Press, 1993

Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite, Chicago, 2008

Erasmus, D & Rummel, E., The Erasmus Reader, based on the collected works of Erasmus, Uni. of Toronto Press, 1990

Foxe, J., Foxe's Book of Martyrs (1563), Forgotten Books, 2007

Gaskell, W., Brief Notices of some of the Unitarian Martyrs and Confessors of England, London, 1850

Goldstone, L., Out of the Flames, NY, NY: Broadway Books, 2002

Irenaeus, Irenaeus against Heresies, Kessinger Pub. 2004

Jonge, H J De., Erasmus and the Comma Johanneum, in ‘Extrait des Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses’, 1980

Metzger, B M., The Canon of the New Testament, Clarendon Press, 1987

Metzger, B M., The Text of the New Testament, it’s Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, 3rd enlarged ed. Oxford Press, 1992

Pressence, E De., The Early Years of Christianity, Kessinger Publishing, 2006

Riggenbach, E., Das Comma Johanneum, Gütersloh, 1928

Schaff, P., Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Hendrickson Pub., 1999

The New Greek-English Interlinear New Testament, Tyndale House, 1990

United Bible Societies Greek Text UBS 4 Apparatus

Woodham, Henry, A., LL.D., ‘Q.S.F. Tertulliani Liber Apologeticus’, The Apology of Tertulian, with English notes and a preface, intended as an Introduction to the Study of Patristical and Ecclesiastical Latinity, Cambridge, J. Deighton, 1850

No comments: