Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Revelation 14:1 - How Many Greek Texts Match the TR?

I recently heard a radio interview in which the person advocating the position against the KJV-only position, asserted that none of the Greek manuscripts match the Textus Receptus in omitting "his name and" in Revelation 14:1. The KJV, however, follows the Textus Receptus precisely in this place and omits the "his name and" from the text.

I thought this was interesting, so I checked the UBS4 and the NA27. Neither even makes reference to the variant reading. Perhaps that is the reason that the person on the radio assumed that there was no Greek manuscript support for the omission.

However, Tischendorf's 8th Edition identifies at least two manuscripts (P and 1) that omit the phrase. It also appears that the Slavonic version omits the phrase.

Using standard modern textual critical techniques, one would expect that the shorter reading would be preferred, and the longer reading would be dismissed as interpolation. Surprisingly, that's not the case. Instead, the longer reading is preferred by the critical text.

I'm inclined to favor the longer reading myself, because it is easier for me to imagine how the phrase could be omitted than inserted. I find the internal evidence uncompelling. The phrase doesn't have any immediate connection to the remainder of the text.

Revelation 3:12 seems to slightly support the longer reading. Some of the later parts of Revelation also seem to support the longer reading, in that God and the Lamb are clearly united (Revelation 22:1-2). Furthermore, I reject the conventional view that scribes are more likely to add than omit, in fact I tend to believe scribes more likely to accidentally omit. Here there is a reasonable explanation for how P and 1 (and others?) could have omitted the phrase, the Greek phrase is:

τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ
the name his and the name the father his

Notice how the two phrases begin with the same two words, and even end with the same word (although that last word may be the subject for another time). This kind of scenario would make it very easy for a scribe to accidentally lose his place and pick up from the wrong spot in copying out the text, thereby inadvertently omitting the phrase from the copy. This would seem to be a relatively easy explanation for manuscripts P and 1 that would account for the presence of the phrase in the major version (Latin) and the majority of the Greek manuscripts.

Incidentally, one does not find the omitted phrase in any of the TR Bibles, starting with the Tyndale Bible. One does, however, find the phrase in the older Wycliffe Bibles, which were translated from the Vulgate.

What is the bottom line? The person making the claim on the radio was probably wrong. A few Greek manuscripts do contain the variant reading. Nevertheless, the point that the person was trying to make, namely that the support for the variant is weak (miniscule, we'd say, if we were trying to amuse), is correct. Revelation 14:1 represents a verse at which it seems that the KJV might be capable of improvemen, which was the guy's point.

-Turretinfan

8 comments:

natamllc said...

Of the multiple of Translations I have, these below listed are equated with KJV. They are, the Literal, the Websters; of the Aramaic, the Lamsa.

Interesting position to be taking this late in the game I should say.

Turretinfan said...

"Orthodox" has brought up an interesting point about the term "Textus Receptus" (TR). That term has been used to refer to a family of Greek printed texts proceeding derivatively from Erasmus' first printed edition of the Greek NT, especially Stephanus' edition of 1550 (an edition that Scrivener famously collated against the editions of Beza, Elsevier, Lachman, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott-Hort, and the English).

In this case, I don't think we'd expect to see any difference among the various TR editions, although it is good to be aware that some (mostly very minor) variants among the TR editions exist.

-Turretinfan

Turretinfan said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Michael.

Interestingly, Murdock's translation includes the phrase.

-Turretinfan

natamllc said...

He was a Westerner, well bred and trained to boot. Suppose there is now a conspiracy to uncover?

:)

Turretinfan said...

I doubt there is any conspiracy at play here. There are textual variants within the Aramaic family of manuscripts.

Also, in some cases, the translators may have interpolated where they believed their texts were incomplete. I'd want to dig into the matter deeper before jumping to any conclusions.

natamllc said...

Lataster's work for the primacy of Aramaic translations from the oldest manuscripts points to an identical matter as you do in this article. His point was to the word "righteous" and the word "wicked".

The TR translations use words like, upright, righteous, honest or just man when you read Romans 5:7.

I will paste the ESV:

(ESV) For one will scarcely die for a righteous person--though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die--

The "written" Hebrew language and the "written" Aramaic language are quite similar looking symbols.

The word wicked in Aramaic and the word righteous in Hebrew are exact with a jot added to the Hebrew word.

Your point about how a longer version and a shorter version in the verse Revelation 14:1 is the same point I am making here with the verse, Romans 5:7 and for the same reason.

At the end of the day, God testifies to our Words. If His anointing is not on them and in them and through them, they are just words.

So the slight variants in translations from one language to another and which manuscripts were used debate seems to always bring front and center gnats and not camels!

Turretinfan said...

1) I emphatically reject the Aramaic originals theories. I don't think you were suggesting that you agree with those theories, just that you found the discussion interesting.

2) Entymology is a fascinating science in its own right, but most of us are called to a broader study than just gnats. Certainly, I am endlessly thankful for the tireless efforts of Tregelles, Tischendorf, and Scrivener: three of the most notable students of minor textual variants.

3) This post is one of minor significance. The post on the Federal Vision was one of much greater significance.

-Turretinfan

natamllc said...

I read mostly from the ESV nowadays.

Yes and yes and yes and amen!!