New Testament Text and Translation Commentary

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5^(B^(BK :J§: H

Commentary on the variant readings of the ancient Testament manuscripts and how they relate to the major English translations





Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. CAROL STREAM,


VisitTyndale's exciting Web site at New Testament Text and Translation Commentary Copyright © 2008 by Philip W. Comfort. Allrightsreserved. 1YNDALE andTyndale's quill logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. .Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data New Testament text and translation commentary: commentary on the variant readings of the ancient NewTestament manuscripts and how they relate to the major English translations / Philip W. Comfort, p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13:978-1-4143-1034-3 (he: alk. paper) ISBN-10:1-4143-1034-X(hc:alk. paper) 1. Bible. N.T.-Manuscripts, Greek. 2. Bible. N.T.-Criticism,Textual. 3. Bible. N.T.-Translating. I. Title. BS1904.5.C66 2008 225.4'86-dc22 2008031065 Printed in the United States of America 14 13 7 6

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1 The Practice of New Testament Textual Criticism


2. Significant Editions of the Greek New Testament


3. Significant English Versions


4. Abbreviations


5. How to Use the Commentary


6. Glossary




Appendix A


Appendix B


Appendix C


Appendix D





The purpose of this work is to provide scholars, pastors, students, and serious Bible readers with a commentary on the variant readings in the New Testament that have significance for Bible interpretation and Bible translation—and to do so in a format that is communicative and informative to English readers as well as those who know Greek. Many readers of the New Testament are perplexed by or at least curious about, the number of differences that exist between modern English versions and the King James Version. Furthermore, readers of the New Testament regularly encounter notes in the margins of their English Bibles that mention variant readings present in the underlying Greek manuscripts. Each of the modern English versions usually has at least 500 such notes for the New Testament; some (such as the New King James Version and the New Jerusalem Bible) have as many as 1,000. Yet explanations rarely accompany these notes, so most readers have no idea why certain readings were preferred over others or why it was important to mention the variant at all. In total, there are about 3,000 textual variants noted in the array of contemporary English versions—variants that impact interpretation and exposition. Commentators, preachers, and students need to be aware of these variants and understand them for enriched interpretation, homiletics, and study of the New Testament text. However, when one of my New Testament students at Wheaton College a number of years ago asked me, "Where is there a book that explains these textual variants?" I had to tell him, "There isn't one, really—unless you know Greek." Since then, I have felt the need to provide such a book for English readers as well as for those who know Greek and are seeking information on how textual criticism might affect translation and exegesis. This volume is my attempt to provide such a tool. This volume has been a long time in the making—well over fifteen years—so I am glad to see it finally come into print. My son, John Comfort, spent countless hours studying the English versions in this book, making many significant contributions. I owe him many thanks for his labor. I also want to acknowledge the editorial skills of David Barrett, Patrick LaCosse, and Matthew Wolf, each of whom made this book better. I offer my thanks to Mark Taylor and Mark Norton for believing in this book, and to Bruce Metzger for always encouraging me in the task of textual criticism. I dedicate this volume to the members of the Bible Translation Committee who produced the New Living Translation. As a member of this committee, I had the happy task of serving as the New Testament textual critic. I hope this volume will help many other translators, as well as scholars, pastors, teachers, and students, make wise choices about the NewTestament text and its translation.


In this introduction, I briefly explain the practice of NewTestament textual criticism (section 1) as well as the histories and textual tendencies of the major printed editions of the Greek NewTestament (section 2) and the standard English versions (section 3). In addition, I have provided a list of sigla and abbreviations (section 4), an explanation of how to use this commentary (section 5), and a glossary of technical terms (section 6). After the introduction follows the commentary—from Matthew to Revelation—covering every textual variation noted in the major English translations. The notes explain every major textual difference between the following versions of the NewTestament: King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV), Revised Standard Version (RSV), New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), English Standard Version (ESV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), New International Version (NIV), Today's New International Version (TNIV), New English Bible (NEB), Revised English Bible (REB), New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), New American Bible (NAB), New Living Translation (NLT, revised), Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), and the NET Bible: New English Translation (NET). Within each note, each textual variant is marked as to whether that reading is found in the Nestle-Aland/United Bible Society Greek NewTestament edition (noted as NU), the Westcott-Hort Greek NewTestament edition (noted as WH), or the Textus Receptus (noted asTR). Frequently, the notes explain textual differences between modern versions on the one hand and the Textus Receptus and KJV (and NKJV) on the other. Many of these variations are noted in the margins of modern versions in deference to the KJV tradition. The notes in this volume also explain significant differences among the modern versions. In addition to the notes that focus on textual variations among the English versions, there is another kind of note that is intended to help English readers and Greek students understand other significant textual differences which (1) have influenced English versions in minor matters, (2) reflect a completely different textual tradition (this often occurs in the D-text in Acts), or (3) present an interesting interpretation. These notes provide English translations and explanations of many of the variants listed in the critical apparatus of the Nestle-Aland text. 1

1. The Practice of NewTestament Textual Criticism

Because the NewTestament is an ancient document—published before the time of the printing press—it exists in many handwritten manuscripts. And since there is not complete agreement 1

Much of the material in this section first appeared in chapter 6 (pp. 289-297) of my book Encountering the Manuscripts (Nashville, Term.: Broadman & Holman, 2005). It is used and adapted here with permission.

of wording among these manuscripts, textual critics must sort through their variant readings to reconstruct the original wording of the Greek NewTestament. This process is called textual criticism. As defined by the Oxford Classical Dictionary, textual criticism is "the technique and art of restoring a text to its original state, as far as possible, in the editing of Greek and Latin authors" (1970,1048). The discipline of textual criticism is necessary for all ancient works, such as Homer's Iliad, Virgil's Aeneid, and the Greek NewTestament. In order to accomplish this task, textual critics need manuscripts—the more the better and (usually) the earlier the better. Textual critics working with nonbiblical literature are often frustrated by the fact that so few manuscripts for the work in question exist or the fact that there is a large gap of time (several centuries) between the original composition and the extant copies. By contrast, NewTestament textual critics have many early and reliable manuscripts. The time gap between the autographs and the earliest extant copies is quite close—no more than 100 years for most of the books of the New Testament. Thus, we are in a good position to recover most of the original wording of the Greek NewTestament. Such optimism was held by the well-known textual critics of the nineteenth century—most notably, Samuel Tregelles, B. F. Westcott, and F. J. A. Hort, who, although acknowledging that we may never recover all of the original text of the NewTestament books with absolute certainty, believed that the careful work of textual criticism could bring us extremely close. In the twentieth century, two eminent textual critics, Bruce Metzger and Kurt Aland, affirmed this same purpose, and were instrumental in the production of the two critical editions of the Greek NewTestament that are widely used today. Tregelles, Hort, Metzger, and Aland, as well as Constantine vonTischendorf, the nineteenthcentury scholar who famously discovered Codex Sinaiticus, all provided histories of the transmission of the NewTestament text and methodologies for recovering the original wording. Their views of textual criticism were derived from their actual experience of working with manuscripts and doing textual criticism in preparing critical editions of the Greek NewTestament. Successive generations of scholars, working with ever-increasing quantities of manuscripts (especially earlier ones) and refining their methodologies, have continued with the task of recovering the original wording of the Greek NewTestament. By contrast, a certain number of textual critics in recent years have abandoned the notion that the original wording of the Greek NewTestament can ever be recovered. Let us take, for example, Bart Ehrman (author of The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture) and David Parker (author of The Living Text of the Gospels). Having analyzed their positions, J. K. Elliott writes, "Both [men] emphasise the living and therefore changing text of the NewTestament and the needlessness and inappropriateness of trying to establish one immutable original text. The changeable text in all its variety is what we textual critics should be displaying" (1999,17). Elliott then speaks for himself on the matter: "Despite my own published work in trying to prove the originality of the text in selected areas of textual variation,... I agree that the task of trying to establish the original words of the original authors with 100% certainty is impossible. More dominant in text critics' thinking now is the need to plot the changes in the history of the text" (1999,18). Not one textual critic could or would ever say that any of the critical editions of the Greek NewTestament replicates the original wording with 100 percent accuracy. But an accurate reconstruction has to be the goal of those who practice textual criticism as classically defined. To veer from this is to stray from the essential task of textual criticism. It is an illuminating exercise "to plot the changes in the history of the text," but this assumes a known starting point. And what can that starting point be if not the original text? In analyzing Ehrman's book, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, Silva notes this same paradox: 'Although this book is appealed to in support of blurring the notion of an original text, there is hardly a page in that book that does not in fact mention such a text or assume its accessibility... Ehrman's book is unimaginable unless he can identify an initial form of the text that can be differentiated from a later alteration" (2002,149). In short, one cannot speak about the text being corrupted if there is not an original text to be corrupted.

I am not against reconstructing the history of the text. In fact, I devoted many years to studying all the early Greek NewTestament manuscripts (those dated before A.D. 300) and compiling a fresh edition of them in The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts (coedited with David Barrett). This work provides a representative sampling of NewTestament books that were actually read by Christians in the earliest centuries of the church. But whatever historical insights we may gain by studying the varying manuscript traditions as texts unto themselves, this is no reason to abandon the goal of producing the best critical edition possible, one that most likely replicates the original wording. Thus, I echo Silva's comments entirely, when he says: "I would like to affirm—not only with Hort, but with practically all students of ancient documents—that the recovery of the original text (i.e., the text in its initial form, prior to the alterations produced in the copying process) remains the primary task of textual criticism" (2002,149). For my own part, my work with the significant textual variants leads me to conclude, with some degree of certainty, that for any given passage of scripture, the original text usually stands somewhere either in the critical edition produced by Westcott and Hort or that produced by Nestle, Aland, et al. Many of the papyri discoveries in the twentieth century affirm readings in Westcott and Hort, but these readings were not always accepted by Aland and the UBS committee. On the other hand, several of the readings in the early papyri show that the text of Westcott and Hort needed to be revised, and this was done in the Nestle-Aland/UBS edition. And there are still other readings (relatively few in number) which, in my estimation, are likely original but were not adopted by either edition. Finally, I must admit that there are several instances where one or more variant readings have equal qualifications to claim the right as being "the original wording." Many textual critics would say the same—though probably about different textual-variant units than the ones I consider. But there is, by no means, a large number of such textual variants. And these few recalcitrant cases should not cause us to abandon the task of recovering the original wording of the Greek New Testament. New insights have come and will keep coming, in the form of actual documents, new methodologies, and new understandings. These will help us continue the valid and necessary task of seeking to reconstruct the original with a high degree of accuracy.

Theories and Methodologies of Textual Criticism THE NATURE OFTEXTUAL CORRUPTION Textual critics deal with two different kinds of corruptions of the original: transcriptional errors and deliberate changes. Transcriptional errors are the most common type found in the manuscripts of the Greek NewTestament. These accidental changes caused by faulty copying are broken down into the following categories: Dittography. An error involving the repetition of a word, letter, or phrase, caused by the eye skipping backward in the copying process. For example, if the original text of Matt 22:32 read:

OVK eonv

0eos veKpwv

"He is not God of the dead" a scribe committing dittography could produce the following:

O U K eonv

Qeos Qeos veicpwv

"God is not God of the dead" Haplography (or Scribal Leap): An error involving the omission of a word, letter, or phrase, caused by the eye skipping that portion in the copying process. Because the scribe moved forward in his copying, this error is sometimes called "a scribal leap." If the original were:

OVK eonv

Qeos Qeog veicpcov

"God is not God of the dead" a scribe committing haplography could produce:

OVK eonv

Qeog veKpwv

"He is not God of the dead" Homoeoarchton (or Homoioarchton): An omission in which the eye of the copyist slips accidentally from one word to a similar word having a similar beginning. If the original text of Eph 1:15 read:

T T | V aycnniv rr\v eis u a v T a g rovs


"love which you have for all the saints" a scribe whose eye slipped from the first to the third word would write: TTIV

eis TravTas rovs


"which you have for all the saints" Homoeoteleuton (or Homoioteleuton): An omission in which the eye of the copyist slips accidentally from one word to a similar word having a similar ending. If the original text of Matt 27:11 had: eTTripwTTiaev OLVTOV o T|y€|Jicov Xeywv "the governor asked him, saying" a scribe confounded by the similar endings of the last two words might write: 6TTTipa)Tr|aev

avrov Xeywv

"he asked him, saying" Transposition: An error in which two letters or two (or more) words are accidentally reversed. If the original text of Heb 12:15read:

T i g p i £ a T U K p i a s avw fyvovoa evoxXri "some root of bitterness, springing up, might cause trouble" a scribe might accidentally transpose two letters in the middle of the last word: T i g p i £ a T U K p i a s avco fyvovoa ev


"some root of bitterness, springing up with gall" Textual critics also deal with purposeful scribal alteration. The two most common types of deliberate changes are conflated readings and interpolations. A conflation is the scribal technique of resolving a discrepancy between two or more variant readings by including all of them. For example, in John 1:34, some manuscripts read "Son of God" and other manuscripts read "chosen of God." A few manuscripts conflate the two readings and say, "chosen Son of God" (see note on John 1:34). This phenomenon is more prevalent in later manuscripts because the scribe was confronted with greater variation among the extant witnesses. Interpolations are scribal additions to the manuscript that attempt to clarify the meaning of the text. For example, in 1 Corinthians 3:3, the best textual evidence supports the reading "jealousy and strife" in a list of vices. Certain scribes couldn't resist adding another vice found in a similar list in Galatians 5:20; so they added "divisions" to the list. These kinds of interpolations account for a host of variants.

METHODS OFTEXTUAL CRITICISM Textual critics have developed theories and methodologies for deciding which reading is most likely original. These theories and methodologies generally fall into two categories: (1) those that pertain to external evidence (with a focus on the classification of manuscripts or studies of the documents themselves) and (2) those that pertain to internal evidence (with a focus on discerning the most likely reading from which all others deviated). External Evidence Various NewTestament textual critics have posited canons for determining the original wording primarily on the basis of external or documentary evidence—the character and reliability of the documents themselves. This endeavor began in the early 1700s, when scholars became dissatisfied with perceived inaccuracies in the Textus Receptus. In 1707, John Mill of Oxford produced an edition of the Textus Receptus with an extensive critical apparatus. His thorough prolegomena detailed several principles for textual criticism which took into account the genealogical relationship that exists between manuscripts copied from the same exemplar. Though he did not change the Textus Receptus, he laid the foundations for modern textual criticism. In the 1730s, Bengel became the first person to categorize manuscripts according to their age and location and to formulate the significant principle that textual witnesses must be weighed and not merely counted—that is, the testimony of a few witnesses may be accepted over against that of a larger number, if the few witnesses are deemed more reliable. The earliest critical editions of the Greek NewTestament represent attempts to produce a critical text largely on the basis of external evidence. Perhaps the most important methodological development from this period came when Westcott and Hort concluded that Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus (along with a few other early manuscripts) presented a text that most closely replicated the original writing. Based on this theory, they developed a genealogical tree that linked extant witnesses (such as Vaticanus and Sinaiticus) to the original autographs. According to their theory, Vaticanus was almost perfectly transmitted from the original. It was a "Neutral Text"—i.e., a text void of corruption. Their theory was revolutionary, and their edition was responsible for overthrowing the Textus Receptus. Westcott and Horts postulate of a "Neutral Text" was rejected, however, by many textual critics who became skeptical of recovering the original text through genealogical means. It was judged by several scholars that Westcott and Hort had begged the question, subjectively selecting Codex Vaticanus as the pure text and then using that selection to declare the other manuscripts impure. Thus, Westcott and Horfs theory was no longer heartily endorsed. Internal Evidence Left without a solid methodology for making external judgments, textual critics turned more and more to internal evidence. They began to endorse the canon that the reading that is most likely original is the one that best explains the variants. This canon is a development of Bengel's maxim (1855, xiii), proclivi scriptioni praestat ardua ("the harder reading is to be preferred"), which he formulated in response to his own question as to which variant reading is likely to have been the source from which the others arose. In practice, applying this central canon of internal criticism involves testing a given reading against several criteria, which various scholars have posited and implemented over the past three hundred years of NewTestament textual criticism. Having made a thorough historical survey of the development of canons for internal criticism, Eldon Epp (1976, 243) summarized all the criteria as follows: 1. A variant's status as the shorter or shortest reading. 2. A variant's status as the harder or hardest reading. 3. A variant's fitness to account for the origin, development, or presence of all other readings.

4. A variant's conformity to the author's style and vocabulary. 5. A variant's conformity to the author's theology or ideology. 6. A variant's conformity to Koine (rather than Attic) Greek. 7. A variant's conformity to Semitic forms of expression. 8. A variant's lack of conformity to parallel passages or to contextual information. 9. A variant's lack of conformity to Old Testament passages. 10. A variant's lack of conformity to liturgical forms and usages. 11. A variant's lack of conformity to extrinsic doctrinal views. The preference for the shorter reading was the primary canon of Griesbach, as espoused in his prolegomena to Novum Testamentum Graece (1796). This guideline has usually been observed by textual critics ever since. But the work of Royse in recent years has called it into question. Studying the habits of the scribes of $ , " p , V , p , V , and y , Royse came to the conclusion that each of these scribes was more inclined to omit words than add words (1981,2-3). Some scholars have therefore drawn the conclusion that the longer reading is to be preferred over the shorter (for example, see Head 1990,247). But Griesbach's principle is still valid if we remember that he "qualified it carefully by excepting certain variants, such as those that could be explained by homoeoteleuton" (Silva 1992b, 23). The kind of omissions noted by Royse often are of nonessential terms or are the result of scribal inadvertence. Thus, the principle still stands with respect to judging between truly shorter readings and readings with longer verbiage. In most instances, the longer verbiage is the result of scribal gap-filling and expansion. Thus, while it cannot be said that the longer reading is always suspect, any reading which looks like an attempt to fill in textual gaps is suspect as a scribal addition. The evaluation of internal evidence by these criteria is not immune to problems of subjectivity. Quite often, two textual critics, using the same list of principles to examine the same variant unit, will not agree. For example, with respect to #4, one critic might argue that one variant was produced by a copyist attempting to emulate the author's style; the other will claim the same variant has to be original because it accords with the author's style. And with respect to #5, one critic might argue that one variant was produced by an orthodox scribe attempting to rid the text of a reading that could be used to promote heterodoxy; another will claim that the same variant has to be original because it is orthodox and accords with Christian doctrine (thus a heterodoxical scribe must have changed it). Thus, internal arguments—in and of themselves—often lead to opposite decisions about textual variants, because each textual critic has his or her own subjective biases. 45

4 6

4 7

) mark made by a scribe in a manuscript; it indicated that the marked text needed to be checked for accuracy. dittography The accidental, erroneous act of repeating a word, phrase or combination of letters by a scribe or copyist. editio princeps exegesis

The first published transcription of an ancient text,

Study of a text in order to understand its full meaning.

exemplar A manuscript that is being copied, or the parent manuscript against which another manuscript is corrected. extant

A manuscript or reading that exists and is known today.

external evidence folio

Evidence for a given reading based on extant manuscripts.

A leaf (sheet of paper, parchment, or papyrus) in a codex.

gap-filling The addition of words to a text by a scribe who perceived a narrative gap (see appendix A). gematria

The interpretation of words and names based on the numerical values of their letters.

gloss A note made in the margins or between the lines of a book, in which the meaning of the text in its original language is explained, sometimes in another language. Sometimes they were included by later copyists as part of the biblical text itself. hapax legomenon

A word that occurs only one time in a corpus.

haplography "endontics").

The act of writing once what should be written twice (e.g., "endodontics" becomes

harmonization The process of changing a text in one Bible passage to make it match the wording in another passage; this frequently occurs in the Gospels. hendiadys Literally, "one through two", the use of two nouns to describe a single object, such as "sound and fury" for "furious sound"; it is a common Greek construction. homoeoarchton Literally, "the same beginning"; it is often the cause of omissions in textual transmission, as the eye loses its place in the exemplar and picks up the same sequence of letters at another place. homoeoteleuton Literally, "the same ending"; it is often the cause of omissions in textual transmission, as the eye loses its place in the exemplar and picks up the same sequence of letters at another place. incipit The first few words of a manuscript, which were often used as a title (e.g., the Hebrew Bible uses "In the wilderness" as the title for the book of Numbers). internal evidence Evidence for a given reading based on how that reading and other variants most likely developed. interpolation

An entry or passage in a text that was not written by the original author.

lacuna/lacunae lectionary

Gaps in the text created by missing fragments in a manuscript.

A collection or arrangement of Scripture readings used in Christian liturgies.

local-genealogical method A method of textual criticism in which decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all available external and internal evidence for the possible variant readings. Majority Text

Readings from the majority of manuscripts,representingthe Byzantine text-type.


Capital letters used in manuscript copying.


A copy of the ancient text in the language in which it was written.


Manuscripts written in lowercase cursive script.

nomen sacrum/nomina sacra A "sacred name" that is typically distinguished in ancient manuscripts by contraction (abbreviation) and an overbar. obelus/obeli A mark in Greek manuscripts which signifies that a correction needs to be made, or that a particular reading is spurious. opisthograph overbar

A scroll with writing on both the front and back.

A horizontal line written over a contraction (abbreviation) in an ancient manuscript.

palimpsest A vellum or parchment manuscript whose original writing was scraped off and replaced with a newer text; very often the older text is more valuable as an ancient witness. papyrology papyrus surface.

The study of ancient papyrus manuscripts.

A writing surface prepared from strips of papyrus reed pounded together to make a flat


The skipping of a copyists eye from one place in the text to another; it is the cause of

many transcriptional errors. parchment A writing surface prepared from animal skins that have had the hair removed and been rubbed smooth. partitive genitive The use of the genitive case to indicate what the main noun is part of. For example, in the expression "firstborn of the dead," the phrase "the dead" is marked by "of" to show that the firstborn is part of the body of dead people. proto-Alexandrian A NewTestament manuscript which predates the Alexandrian manuscripts but appears to have been used in making those manuscripts. quire

A group of four sheets in a codex that are folded together.


The intentional creation of an authoritative edition of a text.

recto This does not indicate the right-hand page, as with modern publishing. Instead, it refers to the side of the papyrus sheet with the grains running horizontally, meant to be read first. Sahidic

The predominant dialect of Coptic in pre-Islamic Egypt.


Men and women trained to make new copies of earlier manuscripts.

scriptio continua Text written continuously with no space between words, a practice exhibited in all early Greek manuscripts. scriptoral practices scribes.

The methods and practices of a particular scribe or group (school) of

scriptorium A room or building (usually attached to a library) set apart for scribes to do their work of copying. Septuagint A translation of the Old Testament into Greek, made in the third century B.C and widely used in the early church (abbreviated as LXX). siglum/sigla A symbol which represents the testimony of an ancient witness or witnesses to a given reading. singular reading

A textual variant that occurs in only a single manuscript.

stemma A genealogical reconstruction of the manuscript tradition; a "family tree" of manuscripts. stichoi Notations at the end of a manuscript section recording how many lines were copied; they were a means of determining how much the scribe should be paid. text-type A family of manuscripts that share largely the same text. Usually described in geographic terms, e.g., the Byzantine text-type is typical of manuscripts copied in Byzantium. textual critic A person who studies manuscripts and their transmission and makes decisions about which reading among the variants is most likely original. textual transmission

The process of manually transmitting a written text from copy to copy.

Textus Receptus The "received text," an edition of the Greek NewTestament on which the King James Version was based. transposition variant readings

A scribal error in which two letters are accidentally reversed. The different readings for a section of text as they appear various witnesses.

variant-unit A place of disagreement among the witnesses to a text, where the various readings must be compared and evaluated. versions

Translations of ancient texts into other languages.

verso This does not indicate the left-hand page, as with modern publishing. Instead, it refers to the side of the papyrus sheet with the grains running vertically, meant to be read second. Vulgate 400).

The translation of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures into common Latin by Jerome (ca.

Gospel according to



Inscription (Title) WHNU

KciTa jiaGGaiov 'According to Matthew" KB (NIV TNIV NLT NET)

variant 1

euayyeXiov K a T a |ia00aiov "Gospel according to Matthew" Paris Papyrus D W f 3 3 Maj NKJV RSV NRSV ESV NASB NEB REB NJB NAB HCSB 13

variant 2/(TR)

ayiov euayyeXiov K a T a |ia00aiov "Holy Gospel according to Matthew" Mf (KJV) 1

variant 3

untitled none

In its original composition, the first verse of Matthew's gospel functioned as the title or incipit. Therefore, variant 3 accurately reflects the absence of a separate title in the original text. $ displays the very first page of Matthew's gospel with the upper margin almost completely intact (on the verso). The only writing that shows is the letter a , the mark for page 1; there is no title. On the recto, a later scribe (in an entirely different hand) may have added a titular descriptor for the Gospel (only three incomplete words are extant). Variant 1 represents the first stage in giving inscriptions to the Gospels. Each gospel was titled separately because each gospel often was a book by itself (see comments on the title to John). Such titles were often expanded, as inTR. The WH NU reading reflects the second stage in titling the Gospels, a stage when all four gospels were placed together in one codex and were titled under one head: The Gospel—According to Matthew, According to Mark, According to Luke, According to John. This titling was mostly influenced by Codex Vaticanus, which has K a T a |ia60aiov, K a T a | i a p K O V , K a T a Xourav, K a T a u$avvx\v written for both the inscription and subscription in each gospel. Codex Sinaiticus has the same titling for the inscription, but in the subscription for Mark, Luke, and John, the word euay yeXiov ("Gospel") comes first (see comments on Matthew's subscription). This reflects the fact that each gospel was titled separately in the earlier history of textual transmission. ]


The two earliest extant manuscripts Cp B) read Zape ("Zare") instead of Z a p a ("Zara"), found in all other manuscripts.

Matthew 1:6 In later manuscripts (C L W Maj) o (3aaiXeug ("the king") is added to the second mention of "David." According to the earliest manuscripts CP X B), T O V (JaaiXea ("the king") appears only in the first mention of David in this verse. 1

Matthew 1:7-8



'Aadcj). 'Aad(() 8

'Asaph. Asaph" $ KBC(D)f itcop NKJVmg RSVmg NRSV ESV NJBmg NAB NLT HCSB NETmg 1


1 1 3



A small fragment of which showed the second occurrence of the name 'Asaph/' was lost shortly after the manuscript's discovery. Fortunately, the original photograph of the manu­ script shows this portion. The reading that appears in the variant is the orthographically "cor­ rect" spelling because Abijah was the father of Asa, according to 1 Chr 3:10-11. However, the documentary evidence strongly supports the "incorrect" spelling. Apparently, Matthew wrote Aaas e m TO (3aTTTLO|ia "they were coming to the baptism" ^ • B c o p Origen 83


The variant has the earliest support and likely represents Matthew's original thought—that the religious leaders were coming to observe the baptism John was doing. (It is possible but not likely that this reading means they were coming to be baptized, for that would be more naturally

expressed by epxo|ie vovs eis TO PaTTTLQ|ia.)TheTRNUreadingprobablyreflects a late addition, intended to distinguish John's baptism from Christian baptism. Most modern versions follow the variant, while the modern NU text uncharacteristically supports the KJV and NKJV.

Matthew 3:11a ^ ) has the reading o 8e epxo|ievog laxupoTepog [iov eonv ("the coming one is greater than I") as opposed to o 8e OTTLOO) \IOV epxo|ievog laxupoTepog \10V e o r i v ("the one coming after me is greater than I"). ^P is the only Greek manuscript that supports this reading. It is also found in two Old Latin manuscripts (it ) and some Coptic manuscripts. 101



Matthew 3:11b TRWHNU

Pomriaei ev T r v e u | i a T i dyia) K a i u u p i "he will baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire" KBCLW all


P a T T T i a e i ev Trveu|±aTi a y i a ) "he will baptize in the Holy Spirit" Maj NKJVmg

The omission might be a scribal attempt to simplify a difficult statement (how would Jesus bap­ tize in fire?). The expression is probably a hendiadys (one thought expressed by two words); in other words, the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a fire baptism, a baptism that brings purification (see Zech 13:9; Mai 3:2).

Matthew 3:15-16 3


In between these verses, two Old Latin manuscripts (it * ) add, "and when he was baptized a great light shone from the water so that all who were gathered were frightened." F. F. Bruce (1989,127-128) notes that this addition is present inTatian's Diatessaron. A similar statement, according to Epiphanius (Pan. 30.13.7-8), appears in the Gospel of the Ebionites: "And immedi­ ately a great light shone round about that place." These additions, though colorful, likely do not

go back to Matthew's original text. In fact, none of the gospels speaks of the presence of light at Jesus'baptism.

Matthew 3:16 ilvecpx^Tiaav [OLVT6>] O I oupavoi


"the heavens were opened to him" K C D L W 0233 f ' Maj KJV NKJV RSVmg NRSV ESV NJBmg NAB NLTmg HCSB NETmg 1



1 13

Tiveo)x9iloav oi oupavot "the heavens were opened" X * B syr*- cop Irenaeus-according to P.Oxy. 405 RSV ESVmg NASB NIV TNIV NEB REB NJB NLT HCSBmg NET 8



The earliest extant manuscript that preserves Matthew's record of Jesus' baptism is P.Oxy. 405, which preserves a portion of Irenaeus's Against Heresies 3.9, in which Matt 3:16-17 is quoted. According to Grenfell and Hunt (1903,10-11), this manuscript should be dated in the late sec­ ond century. If so, this manuscript represents an early copy of Irenaeus's original work, which was produced around A.D. 150-175. The account of Jesus' baptism, as recorded in Matt 3:1617, is repeated in the course of Irenaeus's argument. Matthew's text is designated with a diple (>) at the beginning of each line of the quotation. In standard scriptorial practice, a diple indicated that the wording needed fbang or, at least, checking. A careful transcriptional reconstruction reveals that this manuscript most likely concurs with K* and B. This early manuscript support affirms the WH reading as well as the decision of most modern English translators to go with the shorter text. TheTR NU reading portrays the opening of the heavens as a private experience. However, since the manuscript support for the omission of ai>TG) ("to him") is strong, it is likely that a later scribe added auTG) in an attempt to harmonize this part of the verse to 16b, which states that Jesus (not the crowd gathered there) saw the Spirit of God descending upon him. It is also possible that scribes harmonized Matthew to Mark, who portrays the baptism as Jesus' private experience (Jesus sees the heavens opened and hears the heavenly voice). But the whole tenor of Matthew's account implies a public unveiling. Indeed, the last statement of the pericope is God's public proclamation: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," as opposed to the private affirmation, "You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (an inferior reading, see note on 3:17).

Matthew 3:17 TR W H N U unanimously agree that the voice out of heaven says O U T O S e c m v o vios [iov o a y a i T T i T o g , e v a) ei;8oKT|aa("ThisismybelovedSoninwhomIamwell pleased"). This reading, which is followed by all English versions, has excellent manuscript sup­ port: i p K B C Irenaeus (according to P.Oxy. 405^) Maj. A Western reading begins the quote by saying a i ; e i 0 vios [ion ("you are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased")—so D it syr . This variant is an attempt (1) to conform Matthew's account to Mark and Luke, which both have God the Father speaking directly to his Son (see Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22), and (2) to make the scene at Jesus' baptism a personal epiphany for Jesus. The scribe of D (followed by other Western witnesses) seems to have had an adoptionist view of Jesus' baptism—that is, the baptism was the time that Jesus was filled with God's Spirit and thereby was made God's Son (see note on Luke 3:22, where D's adoptionist tendencies are most apparent). But the point of Matthew's account is to emphasize the Father's open affirmation of his love for his Son and his commissioning him to begin his ministry. No one else on earth shared 101



this relationship and commission. By this announcement, reminiscent of Ps 2:7 and Isa 42:1, God was publicly declaring Jesus to be both the Messiah and Suffering Servant (Morris 1992, 67-68). This heavenly, divine proclamation came not for Jesus' sake but for the sake of the bystanders, including John the Baptist (see John 1:32-34). Elsewhere in the Gospels, the heav­ enly voice proclaims the Father's love and selection of his Son for the sake of those standing by (see, for example, the transfiguration account, Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35). In John 12:2830, Jesus explicitly states that the Father spoke from heaven for the sake of the people, not for his sake. The people (who had come from all around Judea, 3:5) needed to hear the Father's love and commissioning of Jesus because Jesus was about to begin his public ministry. In light of Matthew's perspective on this, we can see why 3:16 was also not originally written as a private experience (see note on 3:16).

Matthew 4:4 According to TR W H NU, supported b y X B C , Jesus tells Satan, "man does not live by bread alone but by every word proceeding through the mouth of God." A few witnesses, chiefly Western (D it *), shorten the quotation by dropping the expression 6 KTTOpe D O |i€ VO) 8L a O T O |iaTO