Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Luke 24:47 and the ESV


          In Luke 24:46-47, according to the ESV, as Jesus commissioned His disciples to preach the gospel, He gave the church its agenda for evangelism:  He commanded them to regard ethnic differences as no barrier to brotherhood, and to invite all people to surrender to God in light of the reconciliation brought about by Jesus Christ:  Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
          At least, that’s what the ESV said in 2001, and in several editions that were released since then.  Now in 2016, Crossway is releasing a “Permanent Text” edition of the ESV – and it has introduced a few changes in the text.  One of them is in Luke 24:47:  instead of referring to “repentance and forgiveness of sins,” Jesus now refers to “repentance for forgiveness of sins.”  This is not a matter of translation-methods; the change in English reflects a decision to favor the Alexandrian reading εις (for) instead of the reading that is found in all other transmission-streams, and in almost all Greek manuscripts:  και (and). 
          A recent announcement at Crossway’s website listed the changes to the text, and announced that this is how all copies of the ESV are going to be from now on.  This is the “Permanent Text of the ESV Bible, unchanged forever, in perpetuity.”  The problem, as far as Luke 24:47 is concerned, is that the ESV’s Oversight Committee’s decision to prefer εις (for) instead of και (and) is incorrect. 
          Three ancient Greek manuscripts support εις:  Papyrus 75, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus.  But, as Daniel Mace (a researcher and Bible translator in the 1700’s) noted, no manuscript is as old as common sense.  The scholars who produced the ESV did not rigidly follow these witnesses.  In Luke 23:34, P75 and Vaticanus do not have Jesus’ statement, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” but the ESV has these words.  In Luke 24:32, P75 and B do not have the words εν ημιν (within us”) but the ESV does.  In Luke 23:29 and 24:49, P75 does not have the word ιδου (“behold”), but the ESV does.   
          Meanwhile, support for και is found in the writings of Cyprian (in the mid-200’s) and Eusebius (early 300’s), and in the ancient codices Alexandrinus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, Bezae, and Washingtonensis, plus over a thousand later manuscripts.  Και is also supported by the Old Latin version which predates the 380’s, as well as by the Vulgate, the Sinaitic Syriac manuscript, the Armenian version (made in the early 400’s), the Ethiopic version, and the Palestinian Aramaic version, and in Augustine’s Sermon 2291.  The diversity of these witnesses is impressive. 
          Secondary support for εις is found in the Peshitta version, and in five Byzantine manuscripts, which Wieland Willker identifies as minuscules 1253, 1519, 2445, 2796, and 2808.  To a great extent, where the Byzantine Text disagrees with the Alexandrian flagship-manuscripts Vaticanus and Sinaiticus, these five witnesses favor the Byzantine reading.  In genetic terms, these five manuscripts are not close relatives of P75, Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus. 
          In a manuscript that contains line after line of Byzantine text, if the text suddenly and momentarily deviates from the usual Byzantine text, we are probably not seeing the sudden intrusion of a secondary exemplar, as if a copyist possessed a second exemplar but only used it once.  Instead, we are observing a scribal error.  When the same rare reading that appears sporadically in Byzantine witnesses also appears in genetically unrelated witnesses, it suggests that the same scribal error has independently recurred.  To express this as a text-critical canon:  Agreement among witnesses which lack a genealogical connection is likely the result of coincidental independent error.
From 2001-2015, the ESV said "and" in Luke 24:47,
as shown on page 236 of the ESV Reader's Gospels.
          That is what we are looking at in these five Byzantine manuscripts.  The mechanism that caused their copyists to deviate from the Byzantine text also caused an early copyist to create the reading found in P75, Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus.  The mechanism is simple:  harmonization.  
          If it were possible to introduce the compilers of the Nestle-Aland text to the variant-unit in Luke 24:47 and describe only the variants, without saying which witnesses supported which reading, the verdict would be clear:  “repentance for forgiveness of sins” is a harmonization to the phrase in Mark 1:4 and Luke 3:3, where the authors refer to “baptism of repentance for [that is, εις] forgiveness of sins.”  The word “for” (εις) also precedes “forgiveness of sins” in Matthew 26:28 and Acts 2:38.  These passages are far more likely to have been recalled by copyists than Acts 5:31, where “and” (και) precedes “forgiveness of sins” but the words “to Israel also appear between the reference to “repentance” and the reference to “forgiveness of sins.”  Compared to the passages in the Gospels, Acts 5:31 is not much of a parallel.  (Bruce Terry misquoted Acts 5:31 in his attempt to defend the decision of the UBS4 Committee.)  
          So, while I am glad that the ESV Permanent Text edition did not make any drastic changes to the text, this particular last-minute alteration in Luke 24:47 is incorrect; the reading και should have been retained.  The Gideons Edition of the ESV remains the best available edition of the ESV.

(I note, in passing, that the UBS Greek New Testament in 1966 had και in the text, the 1984 NIV had and” in the text, and Michael Holmes also adopted και in the 2010 SBL-GNT.)


Scripture quotations are from The ESV Bible® (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved. 

5 comments:

Wayne Steury said...

Interesting observations.

The Oracle said...

"for" makes very good sense, and is doctrinaly sound. Does one receive forgiveness of sins when one remains unrepentant of their sins? The Apostle Peter was sent by Christ to preach the Gospel, and he preached "Repent and be Baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ FOR the forgiveness of sins..." We are thus called by God, to repent for the purpose of obtaining forgiveness of our sins...as well as be Baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Those who refuse to repent and neglect to be Baptized remain in their sins and are in open rebellion against God, not obeying His Gospel. The false feel good, easy peasy gospel spread around today in certain circles says one need only believe in Christ and all is well, nothing else matters. But, sadly many are going to hear that woeful line come from Christ one day, when He says "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of iniquity."

The Oracle said...

"for" makes very good sense, and is doctrinaly sound. Does one receive forgiveness of sins when one remains unrepentant of their sins? The Apostle Peter was sent by Christ to preach the Gospel, and he preached "Repent and be Baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ FOR the forgiveness of sins..." We are thus called by God, to repent for the purpose of obtaining forgiveness of our sins...as well as be Baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Those who refuse to repent and neglect to be Baptized remain in their sins and are in open rebellion against God, not obeying His Gospel. The false feel good, easy peasy gospel spread around today in certain circles says one need only believe in Christ and all is well, nothing else matters. But, sadly many are going to hear that woeful line come from Christ one day, when He says "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of iniquity."

Marius M said...

The problem textually speaking is that only 3 known manuscripts have the word FOR. 99.4% of all manuscripts have the word AND in Luke 24:47.

Joseph Pauley said...

Why did you say that Bruce Terry misquoted Acts 5:31. According to the link you posted he did not misquote it.