Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Luke 7:31 - A Non-original Phrase in the Textus Receptus

MS 270 does not have "And the Lord said"
in Luke 7:31.  The verse begins a lection
and a Eusebian Section (#73/5).
          The Textus Receptus – the Greek text from which the New Testament was translated in the King James Version, the New King James Version, and the Modern English Version (and others) – contains an introductory phrase at the beginning of Luke 7:31:  “And the Lord said” (in Greek, ειπεν δε ο κυριος).  An investigation of this little phrase may have a significant impact not only on an accurate reconstruction of the text of this particular verse, but also on a larger issue involving the King James Version.
          The phrase “And the Lord said” is not in Luke 7:31 in most major recently-made translations of the New Testament.  This is not surprising, because instead of being based on the Textus Receptus, the NIV, NASB, NRSV, ESV, etc. are based primarily on the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece compilation, which relies very heavily on the Alexandrian Text – a text that is transmitted by a relatively small number of manuscripts, but which many researchers consider to be of higher quality than the Byzantine Text, which is supported by a much higher number of manuscripts.  The Alexandrian Text does not contain this phrase.
MS 10 does not have "And the Lord said" in Luke 7:31.
A "telos" in the text means that a lection ends at this point.
The lection-note in the lower margin means,
"Lection for Friday of the third week [after New Year's Day]
- begin with 'The Lord said, "To what shall I liken."'"
          The Textus Receptus usually agrees with the Byzantine Text.  In the Gospel of Luke, there are 220 disagreements between the Textus Receptus and the Byzantine Text (these sums are based on a comparison of Scrivener’s 1881 reconstruction of the Textus Receptus, and the Robinson-Pierpont 2005 Byzantine Textform).   When one sets aside variations involving the spelling of names, and the benign interchange of similarly-pronounced vowels (a kind of variant called itacism, due to the frequent interchange of the Greek vowel iota), and word-spacing, the number of disagreements shrinks to 188.  
          If one then sets aside instances of word-order differences that do not affect the meaning of the sentence in which they occur, the number of differences between the Textus Receptus and the Byzantine Text in the Gospel of Luke is reduced to 172.   In the chapters of the Gospel of Luke that come before the reading in Luke 7:31 that is our focus, 18 differences between Scrivener’s 1881 reconstruction of the Textus Receptus and the Byzantine Text occur which are capable of having an impact on translation.  They are:

1:35 – The Textus Receptus has εκ σου (of thee).  (The NKJV does not have these words; its editors used a very slightly different form of the Reformation-era text than the KJV’s translators used)
2:12 – The Textus Receptus has τη before φατνη (the manger).  (The KJV nevertheless has “a manger.”)
2:21 – The Textus Receptus has το παιδιον (the child), clarifying the Byzantine Text’s αυτον (the pronoun “him”) which is found in the Byzantine Text.
2:22 – The Textus Receptus has αυτης (her); the Byzantine Text has αυτων (their). 
3:19 – The Textus Receptus has φιλιππου (Philip), naming the brother of Herod; the Byzantine Text does not.
4:8 – The Textus Receptus has γαρ (For); the Byzantine Text does not.
4:42 – The Textus Receptus has εζητουν (sought); the Byzantine Text has επεζητουν (sought for, sought after).
5:19The Textus Receptus has δια (by); the Byzantine Text does not.
5:30The Textus Receptus does not have των (the) before τελωνων (tax collectors).
5:36 – The Textus Receptus has επιβλημα (piece) near the end of the verse, instead of just once.
6:7 – The Textus Receptus has αυτον (him) in the opening phrase.
6:9 – The Textus Receptus ends the verse with απολεσαι (destroy); the Byzantine Text has, instead, αποκτειναι (kill).  (Here the NA/UBS compilation agrees with the TR.)
6:10 – The Textus Receptus has τω ανθρωπω (the man), clarifying the Byzantine reading αυτω (him).
6:10 – The Textus Receptus has ουτως (so); the Byzantine Text does not.
6:26 – The Textus Receptus has υμιν (unto you) in the opening phrase; the Byzantine Text does not.
6:26 – The Textus Receptus has παντες (all) before οι ανθρωποι (men).  (A significant minority of manuscripts includes this word, and here the NA/UBS compilation agrees with the TR).
6:28 – The Textus Receptus has και (and) before προσευχεσθε (pray).
6:37 – The Textus Receptus does not have και (and) before μη κρινετε (you shall not be judged).  (The 1550 compilation by Stephanus, however, includes και). 

MS 490 does not have "And the Lord said"
in Luke 7:31.
          Except for the variations at Luke 1:35, 2:22, 3:19, 6:9, and 6:26, even the translatable differences in chapters 1-7 express the same ideas, just at different degrees of clarity.  This is also true of the textual variant at the beginning of Luke 7:31 – except this variant is noticeably larger, consisting of four words:  the Textus Receptus begins Luke 7:31 with the phrase, “And the Lord said” (in Greek, ειπεν δε ο κυριος).
          There is so little support for ειπεν δε ο κυριος that even though this variant is four words long, it is not listed in the UBS Greek New Testament’s apparatus, or in the Nestle-Aland-27 apparatus.  It is covered in the newly expanded 2015 edition of Wieland Willker’s Textual Commentary on the Greek Gospels.  I have not found this exact phrase in the text of any Greek manuscripts, and although my research is not exhaustive (I checked over 20 manuscripts, sampling various Byzantine sub-groups), I suspect that it may have entered the Textus Receptus as a retro-translation from the Latin phrase Ait autem Dominus, found in the Clementine edition of the Vulgate (but not found in most earlier Vulgate manuscripts such as the Book of Kells and the Moutier-Grandval Bible  although the phrase “Tunc Iesus dixit” (Then Jesus said) appears here in Codex Perusinus, a fragmentary Vulgate manuscript made in the 500s or 600s).
MS 119 does not have "And the Lord said" 
in Luke 7:31.
          This variant is one of many exceptions to the often-repeated generalization that the Textus Receptus echoes the majority of Greek manuscripts.  Jack McElroy, in the pro-KJV book, Which Bible Would Jesus Use, states that the Byzantine text “is the form found in the largest number of surviving manuscripts and underlies the Received Text” (p. 49) – but here in Luke 7:31, the inclusion of ειπεν δε ο κυριος is opposed by the vast majority of Greek manuscripts.   The 2005 Robinson-Pierpont edition of the Byzantine Textform does not include ειπεν δε ο κυριος in Luke 7:31.  Neither does Wilbur Pickering’s compilation of the family-35 text.  And neither does the 1904 compilation by Antoniades.
The words "And the Lord said" are not in 
the text of MS 2407, but a barely visible 
lection-note in the upper margin has the words 
"The Lord said" as part of an incipit-phrase.
          So why, one might ask, are these four words in the KJV, NKJV, and MEV?  Why were they included in the Textus Receptus?  They are there in order to make the meaning of the text more obvious to ordinary readers.  The preceding two verses (Luke 7:29-30) are a parenthetical statement by Luke, but without this opening phrase in verse 31, English readers – before the use of quotation-marks was widely adopted – might think that verses 29-30 are a continuation of Jesus’ words, as if Jesus thus described the people who heard John the Baptist.  Although the original text did not have ειπεν δε ο κυριος, its presence (or, in English, the presence of “And the Lord said”) helps ensure a correct understanding of the passage.
          Even without the phrase “And the Lord said,” versions such as the HCSB, NASB, NLT, 1984 NIV, and ESV make it clear that verses 29-30 are a parenthetical comment by Luke.  In these versions, verse 31 thus resumes Jesus’ words with no introductory phrase.  The transition is obvious in modern English thanks to punctuation and quotation-marks (and, in some cases, the use of parentheses).
          In ancient Greek, however, written without quotation-marks, and with only sporadic punctuation, verses 29-30 could be interpreted as part of Jesus’ discourse.  To help readers understand that verses 29-30 are not part of Jesus’ discourse, a phrase was added from the lectionary-incipits – that is, the phrases which were used to introduce passages from the Gospels when selections were read in church-services.  The phrase “ειπεν ο κυριος” was one such phrase, and it was used in the church-services to introduce Luke 7:31-35 when the passage was annually read on the third Friday after New Year’s Day.

In Codex M, a lection-note (highlighted in yellow)  in the outer margin 
identifies Luke 7:31-35 as the lection for the Friday of the third week 
(after New Year's Day), and provides the incipit-phrase,
"The Lord said, 'To what shall I liken.'" 
          Codex Campianus (M, 021  an important uncial from the 800s) provides an example of this.  In Luke 7:31, an asterisk in the text guides the reader to the margin, where there is a note that does two things.  First, it identified Luke 7:31 as the beginning of the lection for the Friday of the third week after New Year’s Day.  Second, it instructs the lector to begin reading the lection with the words, ειπεν ο κυριος [using the usual contraction, κς] τινι ομοιωςω, that is, “The Lord said, ‘To what shall I liken.’”  (It is worth noticing that the word therefore has been left out.)  The same instructions to the lector can be observed in the margins of minuscules 8, 10, 261, 2399, 2407, and some other manuscripts that have the Byzantine lectionary-apparatus with incipit-phrases in the margins.

A faded lection-note in the upper margin of MS 8
is similar to the note in Codex M, giving the date
for the lection that begins at Luke 7:31,
with the incipit-phrase,
"the Lord said, 'To what therefore shall I liken.'"
          What the Textus Receptus conveys via the addition of four Greek words, modern English versions (based on compilations without those four words) convey via the addition of quotation-marks and parentheses.  The 2011 NIV even resorts to the same sort of thing we see in the Textus Receptus; in the 2011 NIV, Luke 7:31 begins, “Jesus went on to say.”
          This little investigation should teach us three things. 
● First:  most of the Textus Receptus’ deviations from the Byzantine Text do not affect translation.
● Second:  in cases where the Textus Receptus’ minority-readings affect translation, they usually have a clarifying or magnifying effect, bringing the original text’s meaning into sharper focus, rather than introducing some new idea.
● Third:  the Textus Receptus does not constitute the original text in its pristine form.  Here in Luke 7:31 the Textus Receptus contains an accretion – benign and helpful though it be – which can be clearly traced to the lectionary-apparatus.  Some Christians believe that the Textus Receptus is the original text, preserved in the same form in which it was written.  Some of these individuals adhere to a creed known as the Westminster Confession, which affirms in the eighth part of its first section that the New Testament, being immediately inspired by God, has been “by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages.”  The manuscript-evidence for Luke 7:31 (and other passages) compels the conclusion that if such an affirmation is to be retained, it must be with the understanding that the purity which has been providentially maintained in the Greek New Testament is an aspect of the message of the Greek text used by the church, and not its exact verbal form.

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