Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Comma Johanneum and Christian Doctrine

          It is practically a matter of routine among Christian apologists – defenders of Christianity against objections – to insist that no textual variants have a decisive impact on any of the core beliefs of Christianity.  I consider that claim to be an oversimplification.  The doctrine of inerrancy, though not part of the major creeds of Christendom, is an important Christian belief.  Some evangelical seminaries even refer to the doctrine of inerrancy as an essential, without specifying what it is essential for.  Several textual variants which have considerable manuscript-support, if adopted, would draw the doctrine of inerrancy into question.  I am thinking specifically of textual variants in Matthew 13:35, Matthew 27:49, Mark 6:22, and a few other passages.
          Textual variants also have a potential impact on doctrines involving the role of women in the church, fasting, divorce, granting forgiveness to those who have not expressed repentance, Mary’s perpetual virginity, the physicality of Christ’s body after His resurrection, the specificity of confessions, Christ’s involvement in human history before the Incarnation, and some other issues.  These are not trivial matters.  Today, though, I want to address just one question:  Was the Christian concept of the Trinity developed as a result of the presence of the Comma Johanneum in the text?
          The answer is, “No.”  In the course of the previous two posts, we reviewed some evidence which very strongly supports the position that the Comma Johanneum is not part of the original text of First John.  It appears to have originated as an explanatory note in the Latin text, subsequent to the creation of another variant, namely the transposition of the words “the spirit, the water, and the blood,” so that the three witnesses became “the water, the blood, and the spirit.”  The Greek manuscript-support for the Comma Johanneum is extremely weak.  Although it was apparently a widely circulated reading in the Latin text that was in use in North Africa in the late 400’s, at the church-councils that sorted out Christological controversies (such as the Council of Nicea and the Council of Chalcedon), the Comma Johanneum was not invoked for any purpose.
             In the late 1700’s, a public exchange of letters between Edward Gibbon and George Travis drew public attention to the controversy about the Comma Johanneum; Gibbon was sure that it was a “pious fraud,” while Travis argued vigorously in favor of its genuineness.  This was followed in 1790 by a book by Richard Porson, a Cambridge professor, in which Porson made a detailed and hard-hitting critique of Travis’ research, his arguments, and his motives.  Travis, of course, wrote a response, which Porson considered so weakly argued as to be self-refuting.  
          Adamant refusal to acknowledge that the Comma Johanneum was not part of the original text was, to an extent, caused by something other than the manuscript-evidence and the patristic evidence.  In England, the people writing and arguing the loudest and longest against the genuineness of the Comma Johanneum tended to be Unitarian, and those who agreed openly and enthusiastically on this point ran the risk – no matter how orthodox their views were on other subjects – of becoming the lightning-rods of heresy-hunters and alarmists, just as Erasmus had been accused of planting the seeds of Arianism by excluding the passage from his first and second editions of the Greek New Testament.  
          Yet when we visit the patristic writings of those who established and disseminated the worship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the 300’s and 400’s, the use of this passage is, as we have seen, extremely sparse.  In 258 (over a century before Priscillian), the unknown author of De Rebaptismate cited First John 5:6-8 without the Comma Johanneum:  For John says of our Lord in his epistle, teaching us: “This is He who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood:  and it is the Spirit that bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.  For three bear witness, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are one.” 
          And later, at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, Leo the Great likewise quoted from First John 5, referring to the testimony of the blessed apostle John:  “‘Who is he that overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood.  And it is the Spirit that bears witness, because the Spirit is truth.  For there are three that bear witness, the spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are one.’  That is, the Spirit of sanctification, and the blood of redemption, and the water of baptism . . . .”
The earliest Greek form of the Comma Johanneum
in the text of a manuscript of First John:
GA 629, fol. 105v
(Ottobianus 298 at the Vatican Library)
         For at least the first 500 years of the existence of the Christian church, the only Christians who used the Comma Johanneum were those who used the Old Latin text that circulated in North Africa and Spain.  The creedal formulations of Nicea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon were all achieved without the use of the Comma Johanneum.   It would be wrong, then, to think that 
it is necessary to retain this passage in order to maintain now what was maintained then regarding the deity of Christ.  Yet, when the Comma Johanneum is rejected, it is not because we can afford to reject it, but because the evidence compels its rejection.  No Greek manuscript before the time of Erasmus exactly corresponds to the Comma Johanneum as printed in the Textus Receptus (and nor does minuscule 61).  The true words of Scripture do not need assistance from an interpolation, even one that summarizes explicitly what is expressed elsewhere in Scripture implicitly. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Hand-to-Hand Combat: Alexandrinus vs. Montfortianus

The opening verses of First
John 3 in Codex Alexandrinus
          Today’s hand-to-hand combat is a contest between the famous and the infamous.  In one corner is Codex Alexandrinus (A, 02), a very important uncial manuscript of the Bible produced in the 400’s.  Codex Alexandrinus’ Gospels-text (which begins in Matthew 25:6; the pages are not extant up to that point) is essentially Byzantine and thus Codex A constitutes the earliest manuscript-support for many Byzantine readings.  In Acts and the General Epistles, Codex A’s text tends to be Alexandrian.  And for Revelation, Codex A is regarded by many researchers as the best manuscript we have (though it is not perfect). 
          Codex A came to the attention of European scholars in 1627, when it was presented to Charles I of England as a gift from Cyril Lucar, patriarch of Constantinople.  (Ambassador-explorer Thomas Roe was instrumental in the delivery of the manuscript, which Lucar had intended to give to James I, who died before the manuscript arrived in England.)  Although at some previous time the codex was, according to a note in the manuscript, kept at Alexandria, this does not require that it was produced in Alexandria.  (One may wonder, had the codex arrived 20 years earlier, what its influence on the King James Version might have been.)
          In the other corner is Codex Montfortianus (61), a manuscript which was probably made around 1520.  It is presently housed at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.  Minuscule 61 is thus a few years younger than the earliest printed compilations of the Greek New Testament!  Such a late manuscript would normally be little-known, but Codex Montfortianus played an interesting role in a controversy about the Comma Johanneum that occurred following the publication of Erasmus’ first edition of the printed Greek New Testament.  
          Erasmus’ first (1516) and second (1519) editions of the Greek New Testament did not include the Comma Johanneum in the text of First John.  The Comma Johanneum, which refers to the Father, Word, and Holy Spirit as three heavenly witnesses, had become very popular in Europe due to its inclusion in medieval editions of the Vulgate.  Some scholars (especially Edward Lee and Jacobus Stunica) protested against Erasmus’ non-inclusion of the Comma Johanneum.  The late Bruce Metzger wrote that in response, “In an unguarded moment Erasmus promised that he would insert the Comma Johanneum, as it is called, in future editions if a single Greek manuscript could be found that contained the passage.”  James White has similarly stated that “Erasmus had promised, in his response to Lee, to include the passage should a Greek manuscript be found that contained it.” 
          That story has been circulated by many commentators.  (Even Samuel Tregelles spread this story, back in the 1800’s.)  However, researcher Henk de Jonge, via a detailed direct study of the relevant compositions, has shown that Erasmus never made the promise described by Metzger, White, and many others.  Instead, Erasmus, in a letter written in May of 1520, in the course of explaining why he had not included the Comma Johanneum, stated, “If a single manuscript had come into my hands which attested to what we read [in the Vulgate], then I would certainly have used it to fill in what was missing in the other manuscripts I had.”              
          Erasmus also stated that Edward Lee did not have a valid reason to accuse Erasmus of negligence in this regard; de Jonge provides Erasmus’ retort:  “What sort of indolence is that, if I did not consult the manuscripts which I could not manage to have?  At least, I collected as many as I could.  Let Lee produce a Greek manuscript in which are written the words lacking in my edition, and let him prove that I had access to this manuscript, and then let him accuse me of indolence.”
          Shortly after this exchange between Edward Lee and Desiderius Erasmus, the existence of Codex Montfortianus, and the inclusion of the Comma Johanneum in its text of First John, were pointed out to Erasmus.  Erasmus never made a promise to include the Comma Johanneum in a future edition of the Greek New Testament if a Greek manuscript containing it could be found; he merely insisted that he could not validly be accused of omitting it in his first two editions due to negligence, because he had not found it in the manuscripts accessible to him.  However, it is also clear that because of Erasmus’ statement that he would have included the Comma Johanneum if he had found it in a single manuscript, Erasmus could easily anticipate in 1522 that if he were to omit the Comma Johanneum in his third edition, after being informed of the existence of a Greek manuscript that contained the passage, he would certainly be accused of inconsistency, having already stated that if he had possessed a single Greek manuscript with the passage, he would have included it.
First John 5:7-8 in the 1611 KJV.
          Erasmus consequently included the Comma Johanneum in subsequent editions (with some adjustments to its text).  It was also included in the editions of Stephanus and Beza later in the 1500’s – and thus it was in the base-text used by the translators of the Geneva Bible and the King James Version.  So although minuscule 61 is relatively unimportant as far as most other passages of the New Testament are concerned, in First John 5:7-8 its impact has been enormous.
          J. Rendel Harris, in 1887, proposed that Codex Montfortianus was produced – with the Comma Johanneum – by a Franciscan monk named William Roy (sometimes called Froy, because, in theory, an abbreviation for “Fratris” (“brother”) was misinterpreted as part of his name), who was working at the time under the auspices of Henry Standish, a British bishop who opposed both Erasmus’ Greek New Testament and the Protestant Reformation in general.  (Froy went on to leave the Franciscan order in the early 1520’s; he became an assistant of William Tyndale for a while, and was eventually martyred, in Portugal, in 1531.)  Roy was in the right place, at the right time, and possessed the necessary training and resources to produce the manuscript (in which the text of Revelation appears to have been copied from minuscule 69).
          Richard Brynckley (or Brinkley) is another suspect.  This erudite scholar was Provincial Minister from 1518 to 1526, and he had taught at Cambridge from 1492 to 1518, when minuscule 69 was kept there.  (Brynckley was at Cambridge when Erasmus lived there in 1511-1513, and Erasmus later sent greetings to Brinkley in a letter to Henry Bullock.)  Grantley McDonald, in a recent book, has recently questioned the possibility that Brinkley made MS 61, on the grounds that the script that Brinkley used to write his name and title in another manuscript does not match the script in MS 61.  However, Brinkley may have been, like many people, capable of using one kind of script when writing his signature, and another handwriting-style for other purposes.
          Yet another suspect is Francis Frowyk.  Grantley McDonald proposes that Harris’ identification of “Froy” as Fratris Roy does not fit the evidence as well as the identification of Froy with Francis Frowyk, a Franciscan colleague of both Erasmus and John Clement (one of the owners of MS 69).  Frowyk, according to McDonald, visited Erasmus in August of 1517.  Frowyk had the requisite skill in Greek, and access to minuscule 69, and interest in Erasmus’ work.  It may be that Codex Monfortianus was produced not by an enemy intent on embarrassing Erasmus, but by a friend who discerned that an opportunity existed to quietly provide a resource which would give Erasmus the means to deflect some accusations of heresy which several critics were making against him.     

          In any event, without Codex Montfortianus, the Reformation might have been significantly different.  With all this in the background, we approach the battleground for today's contest:  First John 3:1-14 – not far from the passage for which Codex Montfortianus has become infamous.  We shall use, as the basis of comparison, the text of the 27th edition of the Nestle-Aland compilation.  Words in brackets will be treated as part of the text.  Transpositions will be mentioned but not included in the final corruption-count.  Abbreviations of sacred names, and other abbreviations, will not be treated as variants.  In addition, στ (sigma and tau) and ϛ (stau) will be treated as identical, that is, the use of stau in 61 to represent what is expressed as στ in Codex A will not be considered a variant.

Here are the differences between Codex A and the text of NA27 in First John 3:1-14.

1 – A has εδωκεν instead of δεδωκεν.  (-1)
2 – no differences.
3 – no differences.
4 – no differences.
5 – no differences.
6 – no differences.
7 – A has Παιδια instead of Τεκνια (+4, -4)
7 – A has μη τις instead of μηδεις (+1, -2)
8 – A has δε after ο at the beginning of the verse (+2)
9 – no differences
10 – A has την after ποιων (+3)
11 – A has αγγελεια instead of αγγελια (+1)
12 – no differences
13 – A does not have Και at the beginning of the verse (-3)

Codex A thus has 11 non-original letters, and is missing 10 original letters, for a total of 21 letters’ worth of corruption. 

Here are the differences between the text of 61 and the text of NA27 in First John 3:1-14.  (Agreements with the RP2005 Byzantine Text are marked with a triangle.)

1 – 61 has ιδε instead of ιδετε (-2)
1 – 61 transposes, yielding ο πατηρ ημιν
1 – 61 does not have και εσμεν (-8)  ▲
2 – 61 has ουκ instead of ουπω (+1, -2)
2 – 61 has δε after οιδαμεν (+2)  ▲
2 – 61 has εστι instead of εστιν (-1)
3 – 61 has αυτος instead of εκεινος (+3, -5)
3 – 61 has εστι instead of εστιν (-1)
4 – 61 does not have ποιει (-5)
4 – no differences
5 – 61 has ημων after αμαρτιας (+4)  ▲
5 – 61 has εστι instead of εστιν (-1)
6 – no differences
7 – 61 has εστι instead of εστιν (-1)
8 – 61 has εφανευρωθη instead of εφανερωθη (+1)  [This might be an accent but I was not sure.]
9 – 61 has το before σπερμα (+2)
10 – 61 has εστι instead of εστιν (-1)
10 – 61 has εργα before the first τεκνα (+4)  
11 – no differences
12 – 61 has εσφαξε instead of εσφαξεν (-1)
13 – 61 does not have Και at the beginning of the verse (-3)  ▲
13 – 61 has μου after αδελφοι (+3)  ▲
14 – 61 has τον αδελφον after αγαπων (+10)  ▲

Minuscule 61 thus contains, in First John 3:1-14, 30 non-original letters, and is missing 31 original letters, for a total of 61 letters’ worth of corruption.  (If movable-nu variants are removed from consideration, then 61 has 30 non-original letters, and is missing 25 original letters, for a total of 55 letters’ worth of corruption.) 

          Compared to NA27, Codex A has only 21 letters’ worth of corruption in First John 3:1-14 – most of which consists of the reading Παιδια (instead of Τεκνια) in verse 7, την after ποιων in verse 10, and the inclusion of Και at the beginning of verse 13. 
          Compared to NA27, 61 has 61 letters’ worth of corruption in First John 3:1-14 – the biggest differences being the absence of  και εσμεν in verse 1, αυτος instead of εκεινος in verse 3, the absence of ποιει in verse 4, the presence of ημων in verse 5, and the inclusion of τον αδελφον in verse 14. 
          This was an easy victory for Codex Alexandrinus – and the quality of Codex A’s text increases when NA28 is the standard of comparison:  in NA28, Παιδια was adopted at the beginning of verse 7.  Codex A thus has only 13 letters’ worth of corruption in First John 3:1-14.  (Side-note:  I cannot tell why the compilers of NA-28 kept Και at the beginning of verse 13.  If Και is rejected – as it seems to be in the text of practically all modern English versions – then Codex A’s corruption-level in these 14 verses decreases to just 10 letters’ worth of corruption.)

[Readers are invited to check the data and math in this post.  Using the embedded link to Codex A, First John 3 begins on fol. 82r.  Using the embedded link to MS 61, First John 3 is on fol. 436r.]

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cyprian and the Comma Johanneum

An iconic representation of
Cyprian, bishop and martyr.
        Few textual variants in the New Testament have received more attention than First John 5:7-8, where the  Textus Receptus – the printed base-text of the New Testament in the King James Version – reads, οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τω ουρανω ο πατηρ ο λογος και το αγιον πνευμα και ουτοι οι τρεις εν εισιν και τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες εν τη γη το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν, which is represented in English as, “There are three witnesses in heaven:  the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.  And there are three witnesses in the earth:  the spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree in one.”  The base-text of most modern translations is significantly shorter and different:  οτι τρεις εισιν οι μαρτυρουντες το πνευμα και το υδωρ και το αιμα και οι τρεις εις το εν εισιν, that is, in English, “There are three witnesses:  the spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree in one.”
          The longer reading – technically known as the Comma Johanneum – is well-known from the KJV.  It is also in the text of the NKJV and Modern English Version (with a footnote).  The English Standard Version, on the other hand, does not contain the Comma Johanneum and the ESV has no footnote in First John 5:7-8.  The NIV2011 and the Holman Christian Standard Bible do not have the Comma Johanneum in the text, but each contains a footnote acknowledging its existence in manuscripts of the Vulgate and in a few late manuscripts.
          I am not going to review all the evidence about the Comma Johanneum here, but a few points should be covered to set the stage for what I am going to say about the testimony from the third-century writer Cyprian. 

● The support for the Comma Johanneum in Greek manuscripts is staggeringly poor.  Out of about 500 extant Greek copies of First John, four of them have the Comma Johanneum in the text:  629 (a manuscript in which the Greek and Latin texts appear side-by-side), 61 (Codex Montfortianus, which was brought to the attention of Erasmus when this passage was discussed in the early 1500s after Erasmus had not included the passage in his first edition of the Greek New Testament), and 2473 and 2318 (both of which are extremely late – later than 1611).  Six other manuscripts have the Comma Johanneum (“CJ” from here on) written in the margin, but these margin-notes appear to have been added much later than the production-date of the manuscript itself.  (In the case of minuscule 177, made in the 1000s, the CJ was added in the margin after 1550; the margin-note mentions the verse-number.)

● The Latin support for the inclusion of the Comma Johanneum is plentiful, and its earliest components are only slightly later than the earliest manuscript-evidence for non-inclusion.  The author of a composition called Liber Apologeticus (either Priscillian, or one of his associates) used the CJ in the 380’s, in Spain“Tria sunt quae testimonium dicunt in terra:  aqua caro et sanguis et haec tria in unum sunt.  Et tria sunt quae testimonium dicent in caelo:  Pater Verbum et Spiritus et haec tria unum sunt in Christo Iesu.”  It should be noticed, however, that this varies considerably from the contents of First John 5:7-8 as known from the TR and KJV.  Priscillian lists the earthly witnesses before the heavenly witnesses.  Priscillian’s list of earthly witnesses is different:  instead of referring to “the spirit, the water, and the blood,” Priscillian refers to “water, flesh, and blood.”  He also adds the phrase, “in Christ Jesus” at the end.

● A Latin writer in North Africa named Victor Vitensis attended the Council of Carthage in 484, after the Arian Vandal king Huneric had instructed the Trinitarian bishops of North Africa to meet there with Arian bishops to discuss the subject of the Trinity.  The Trinitarian African bishops, who numbered over 100, were led by Eugene of Carthage.   The Council of Carthage itself was unproductive and brief.  Eugene of Carthage, the leader of the Trinitarian bishops, had intended to present a statement of faith at the council, and this manifesto was incorporated into Victor Vitensis’ account.  It includes the following statement:  “Et ut luce clarius unius divinitatis esse cum Patre et Filio Spiritum Sanctum doceamus, Joannis Evangelistae testimonio comprobatur.  Ait namque:  Tres sunt qui testimonium perhibent in coelo:  Pater, Verbum et Spiritus Sanctus et hi tres unum sunt.” – which means, in English, “And as a shining light teaching the unity of the divinity of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, the testimony of John the Evangelist demonstratively testifies:  ‘There are three who bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.’”  This indicates that the CJ was so well-circulated in Latin in North Africa in the late 400s that a prominent bishop was willing to utilize it at a theological conference.

● A composition called Contra Varimadum Arianum (conceivably written by Idacius Clarus in Spain in the late 300s, but perhaps more probably by Vigilius Tapsensis in North Africa in  the late 400s) includes the following statement:  “John the Evangelist, in his Epistle to the Parthians (i.e. his 1st Epistle), says there are three who afford testimony on earth:  the water, the blood, and the flesh, and these three are in us; and there are three who afford testimony in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one.

● Eucherius of Lyons, c. 440, in his composition Formulas of Spiritual Knowledge (Formulae Spiritualis Intelligentiae), in chapter 10 (On Numbers), stated that the number three represents the Trinity, “in the epistle of John: three are those who bear witness: water, blood, and spirit.” 

● Cassiodorus, in the 500s, utilized the CJ in his composition Complexiones in Epistolis Apostolorum, as follows:  “Cui rei testificantur in terra tria mysteria:  aqua sanguis et spiritus, quae in passione Domini leguntur impleta:  in coelo autem Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus sanctus, et hi tres unus est Deus.”  In English this yields:  “And the three mysteries testify – on earth:  water, blood and spirit.  The fulfillment of which we read about in the passion of the Lord.  And in heaven:  Father and Son and Holy Spirit.  And these three are one God.”
● In Codex Fuldensis, which was produced in 546, the CJ is mentioned in the Preface to the Canonical Epistles (by “Canonical Epistles” the General Epistles are meant).  The author of this preface specifically mentioned the CJ, and stated that “much error has occurred at the hands of unfaithful translators contrary to the truth of faith, who have kept just the three words ‘water, blood and spirit’ in this edition, omitting mention of Father, Word and Spirit.”  The text of First John in Codex Fuldensis does not contain the CJ; similarly, the order of the three witnesses in the text is different than the order cited in the Preface to the Canonical Epistles – in the text of First John, Codex Fuldensis refers to “spirit and water and blood” as the three who testify.

          With all this in the background, we now come to today’s main subject:  the testimony of Cyprian of Carthage.  In his Treatise on the Unity of the Universal Church (1:6), Cyprian says: “Dicit Dominus, ‘Ego et Pater unum sumus,’ et iterum de Patre et Filio et Spiritu sancto scriptum est:  ‘Et tres unum sunt.’”  In English:  “The Lord says, ‘I and the Father are one,” and again, it is written of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, ‘And these three are one.’”
          The issue here is (as Dan Wallace has pointed out) whether Cyprian quoted (or slightly misquoted) the CJ when he refers to the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, or whether he merely quoted the words, “And these three are one.”  
          The idea that Cyprian possessed a copy of First John that contained the CJ is not as unlikely as some commentators have made it seem.  Against the point that none of the early Greek manuscripts of First John contain the CJ, the counterpoint may be submitted that Hort, in 1881, argued for six readings in the General Epistles which are likewise supported by no ancient Greek manuscripts – and in 2013, the Nestle-Aland compilers adopted a reading into the text of Second Peter 3:10 that is found in no Greek manuscripts.  Clearly, at least among some highly influential textual critics, the lack of early Greek manuscript support does not rule out the plausibility of a textual variant.
          In addition, it is possible to explain the early loss of the CJ as a consequence of two simple scribal errors.  If a copyist were to copy the longer reading in a narrow column, and transpose the words “εν τη γη” (“on the earth”) so as to appear before the word “τρεις” (three) in verse 8, the text would look like this:   
     οι μαρτυρουντες
     εν τω ουρανω
     ο πατηρ ο λογος και
     το αγιον πνευμα
     και ουτοι οι τρεις
     εν εισιν και εν
     τη γη τρεις εισιν
     οι μαρτυρουντες
     το πνευμα και το
     υδωρ και το αιμα
     και οι τρεις εις το
     εν εισιν·           
And if a subsequent copyist were to lose his line of sight and jump from the words οι μαρτυρουντες at the end of the second line to the identical words at the end of the ninth line, accidentally skipping the intervening words (in bold print), the resultant text would be:
     οτι τρεις εισιν
     οι μαρτυρουντες
     το πνευμα και το
     υδωρ και το αιμα
     και οι τρεις εις το
     εν εισιν·          
which is the text found in almost all Greek manuscripts of First John. 

          So those who defend the CJ may have an answer to Dan Wallace’s charge that they are denying history.  They are proposing that early scribal errors resulted in the corruption of all of the early Greek manuscripts, just as advocates of the Nestle-Aland compilation implicitly propose that early scribal errors have repeatedly resulted in the corruption of all the early Greek manuscripts except three, or two, or one, or (at Acts 16:12 and Second Peter 3:10) all of them. 

          But let’s not get distracted from that comment by Cyprian.  When one considers the theory that Cyprian was merely applying the final phrase of First John 5:8 to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a question presents itself:  what sort of interpretive alchemy starts with “the spirit and the water and the blood,” and manages to conjure from that a representation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?   
          Enter Scotti Anonymi – an anonymous Irishman who wrote a commentary on the General Epistles in the late 600s.  He does not comment on the CJ.  He does, however, put a distinctly Trinitarian spin on the three witnesses – which he lists, not as “the spirit and the water and the blood,” but as “water, blood, and spirit.”  This is a conformation to the order in which the water, blood, and spirit appear in First John 5:6.  A change in the order of the witnesses in First John 5:8 was an easy change for an early copyist to make.  And when we look at the early citations of First John, it becomes clear that early Latin copyists did indeed make this alteration in the text of First John. 
          That is why, in the commentary of Scotti Anonymi, the text of First John 5:8 elicited thoughts about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  As researcher Shane Angland has observed, Scotti Anonymi used Jeremiah 2:13 – where God describes Himself as “the fountain of living waters” – as the basis on which to interpret “the water” as a proxy for the Father.  Blood represents Christ.  And of course the reference to the spirit was interpreted to represent the Holy Spirit.  Even a fan of allegorical, or symbolic, interpretation, might not naturally or readily see a reference to the Trinity in the words, “the spirit and the water and the blood,” but when these nouns are rearranged as “the water and the blood and the spirit,” a symbolic interpretation becomes much more natural.

          I propose that the arrangement of the witnesses in First John 5:8 was adjusted – not with any intent to model the Trinity, but simply to conform to the order in which the water, blood, and spirit are introduced in 5:6 – very early in an Old Latin transmission-stream.  Let’s look again for indications of this in the patristic evidence:

● This was the text used by the author of the Preface to the Canonical Epistles in Codex Fuldensis;  he mentioned “the three words ‘water, blood and spirit.’”
● This was the text used by Eucherius:  “water, blood, and spirit.” 
● This was the text used by Cassiodorus:  “water, blood, and spirit.” 
● Two-thirds of this reading is supported by Etherius of Osma in the 700s in Adversus Elipandum (“the water and the blood and the flesh”), and by the author of Contra Varimadum (“the water, the blood, and the flesh”).
● Priscillian similarly put water first in the list of earthly witnesses (“water, flesh, and blood”).

          From this evidence it may be deduced that in the North African Latin text of First John (or at least in one form of it), by the time Cyprian ever read the text, the order of the earthly witnesses in 5:6 had been transposed to “water, blood, and spirit.”  Due to this transposition, Cyprian interpreted the passage as a reference to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  With the transposition in the equation, Cyprian’s interpretation of First John 5:8 as a model of the Trinity is not puzzling.  There is thus no reason to assume that he was referring to the CJ in his Treatise on the Unity of the Universal Church.

[Readers are invited to check the data used in this post.]

Thursday, August 18, 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. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hand to Hand Combat: Codex Sinaiticus vs. Minuscule 4

          Codex Sinaiticus returns to the combat-ring today!  Facing this heavyweight is a relatively obscure challenger:  minuscule 4.  This Gospels-manuscript from the 1200’s is so little-known that it seems appropriate to offer some information about its background (or possible background) before the contest begins.
          In the 1430’s, a clergyman named John of Ragusa (a place known today as the coastal region around Dubrovnik, Croatia) took part in church councils at Basel (in Switzerland) and Florence (in Italy) as a representative of the Dominican monastic order.  The top item on the agenda of these councils was reconciliation with the Orthodox Church based in Constantinople.  In the course of his work, John of Ragusa served as an emissary to Constantinople in 1435-1437.  The leaders of the Orthodox Church sent representatives – including Basilios Bessarion, who united with the Roman Catholic church and was made a cardinal in 1439 – to the Council of Florence, where, after much debate, a formal statement of unity was drawn up – only to be rejected later by Orthodox clerics in Constantinople.
          On May 29, 1453, Constantinople fell to Islamic invaders.  Something else had happened ten years earlier which, as it turned out, was also significant:  when John of Ragusa died in 1443, he bequeathed a small collection of manuscripts – possibly souvenirs from his visit to Constantinople, or perhaps gifts from Bessarion – to the Dominican convent at Basel.  This collection included not only some classical works but also a few manuscripts of parts of the New Testament.
          Seventy-two years later, in 1515-1516, Desiderius Erasmus visited Basel in order to use the manuscripts known to be in the possession of the Dominican monks there.  With the help of those manuscripts, along with his vast knowledge of patristic material and other data amassed in his previous research (plus the research-notes of Lorenzo Valla), Erasmus produced the first published printed edition of the Greek New Testament.
          Minuscule 4 – presently kept at the National Library of France as Greek MS 84 (formerly Regius MS 2867) – is either one of those manuscripts which John of Ragusa gave to the monks at Basel, or else it came from some other source.  There seems to be some confusion about whether or not 4 was ever at Basel, and whether or not it was used by Erasmus.  But in any event, readings from this manuscript were known to Robert Stephanus; this manuscript was denoted by the Greek letter γʹ (gamma) in the notations in Stephanus’ 1550 edition of the Greek New Testament.  Minuscule 4 helped define the Textus Receptus.     

          Now let’s get down to business.  Two pages of minuscule 4 conveniently contain, more or less, John 6:65-71 and 7:1-16.  These 23 verses constitute the textual battleground of today’s contest.  Here are the contest’s rules, applied to the text in both manuscripts:
          ● The text of the first hand of each manuscript will be compared to the text of NA27.  Words in brackets in the text of NA27 are considered part of the text.
          ● Transpositions that do not involve any gain or loss of words are mentioned, but are not included in the final totals.
          ● The introduction of one non-original letter = 1 point.
          ● The loss of an original letter = 1 point.
          ● Abbreviations of sacred names, abbreviations of και, and easily deciphered contractions are not counted as variants.
          ● If a sacred name is absent, all its letters are considered absent, even if it is very probable that it would have been abbreviated in the manuscript.
Here are the deviations from the text of NA27 in 4.  I have marked each reading in 4 that agrees with the Byzantine Text (RP2005) with a triangle, except for transpositions.

6:65 – 4 has ηρηκα instead of ειρηκα.  (+1, -2)
6:65 – 4 has ει instead of η (+2, -1)
6:65 – 4 has μου (+3) ▲
6:66 – 4 does not have the second εκ (-2) ▲
6:66 – 4 has a transposition
6:67 – 4 has θελεται instead of θελετε (+2, -1)
6:68 – 4 has ουν (+3) ▲
6:69 – 4 has (in abbreviated form) Χριστος ο υιος instead of Αγιος (before του Θυ) (+12, -7)  [Note:  one could plausibly reduce this to +9, -4, since both readings, when uncontracted, share the letters ιος at the end.  But I did not.] ▲
6:69 – 4 has (after του Θυ) του ζωητος (+9) ▲
6:70 – 4 does not have ο Ιησους (-7)   
6:71 – 4 has ελεγε instead of ελεγεν (-1)
6:71 – 4 has Ισκαριωτην instead of Ισκαριωτου (+2, -2) ▲
6:71 – 4 has a transposition
6:71 – 4 has ων (after εις) (+2) ▲
7:1 – 4 has a transposition
7:2 – 4 has no differences
7:3 – 4 has has θεωρησουσι instead of θεωρησουσιν (-1)
7:4 – 4 has a transposition
7:4 – 4 has another transposition
7:5 – 4 has επιστευων instead of επιστευον (+1, -1)
7:6 – 4 has no differences
7:7 – 4 has no differences
7:8 – 4 is missing εγω ουκ αναβαινω εις την εορτην (-26) 
7:8 – 4 has a transposition
7:8 – 4 adds ο before transposed εμος (+1) ▲
7:9 – 4 has αυτοις instead of αυτος (+1) ▲
7:10 – 4 has a transposition
7:10 – 4 has αλλ instead of αλλα (-1) ▲
7:11 – 4 has ελεγων instead of ελεγον (+1, -1)
7:12 – 4 has a transposition
7:12 – 4 does not have δε (-2) ▲
7:12 – 4 has ελεγων instead of ελεγον (+1, -1)
7:13 – 4 has μεντι instead of μεντοι (-1)
7:14 – 4 has ο before Ις (+1) ▲
7:15 – 4 has Και before εθαυμαζον (+3) ▲
7:15 – 4 does not have ουν (-3) ▲
7:15 – 4 has ουτως instead of ουτος (+1, -1)
7:16 – 4 has no differences

Thus in John 6:65-7:16, compared to NA27, minuscule 4 contains 45 non-original letters, and has lost 61 original letters, for a total of 106 letters’ worth of corruption.  (In addition, there are six transpositions in this passage in 4.)

Now let’s look at the deviations from NA27 in the same passage in Codex Sinaiticus (in the “Western” portion of the manuscript):

6:65 – א has ουδις instead of ουδεις (-1)
6:65 – א has εμε instead of με (+1)
6:65 – א does not have αυτω (-4)
6:66 – א has ουν after τουτου (+3)
6:67 – א does not have εκ after πολλοι (-2)
6:67 – א does not have αυτου after μαθητων (-5)
6:67 – א has υμις instead of υμεις (-1)
6:67 – א has θελεται instead of θελετε (+2, -1)
6:68 – א has no differences
6:69 – א has ημις instead of ημεις (-1)
6:70 – א does not has αυτοις ο (-7)
6:70 – א has και ειπεν (+8)
6:70 – א has ουχι instead of ουκ (+2, -1)
6:70 – א has a transposition
6:70 – א does not have τους (-4)
6:70 – א does not have εις (-3)
6:71 – א does not have τον (-3)
6:71 – א has απο (+3)
6:71 – א has Καρυωτου instead of Ισκαριωτου (+1, -3)
6:71 – א has και after γαρ (+3)
6:71 – א has εμελλον instead of εμελλεν (+1, -1)
6:71 – א has a transposition
6:71 – א has ων after εις (+2)
7:1 – א has αποκτιναι instead of αποκτειναι (-1)
7:2 – א has no differences
7:3 – א has a transposition
7:3 – א has θεωρουσιν instead of θεωρησουσιν (-2)
7:3 – א has a transposition
7:4 – א has ουδις instead of ουδεις (-1)
7:4 – א has ποιων instead of ποιει (+2, -2)
7:4 – א does not have και (-3)
7:4 – א has ζητι instead of ζητει (-1)
7:5 – א has no differences
7:6 – א does not have ουν (-3)
7:6 – א does not have ο before Ις (-1)
7:7 – א has a transposition
7:7 – א does not have εγω (-3)
7:7 – א does not have περι αυτου (-9)
7:7 – א has πονιρα instead of πονηρα (+1, -1)
7:8 – א has αναβηται instead of αναβητε (+2, -1)
7:8 – א has ταυτην before εγω (+6)
7:9 – א does not have δε (-2)
7:9 – א has εμινεν instead of εμεινεν (-1)
7:10 – א has αλλ instead of αλλα (-1)
7:10 – א does not have ως (-2)
7:11 – א has εκινος instead of εκεινος (-1)
7:12 – א has a transposition
7:12 – א has τω οχλω instead of τοις οχλοις (+2, -6)
7:12 – א does not have δε (-2) 
7:13 – א has ουδις instead of ουδεις (-1)
7:13 – א has a transposition
7:14 – א has ερτης instead of εορτης (-1)
7:15 – א has no differences
7:16 – א does not have ο before Ις (-1)

Thus in John 6:65-7:16, compared to NA27, Codex Sinaiticus contains 39 non-original letters, and has lost 83 original letters, for a total of 122 letters’ worth of corruption.  (In addition, there are seven transpositions in this passage in Codex Sinaiticus.)

          Now we all know what we have been told about the manuscripts upon which the Textus Receptus was based:   they were “The feeblest of manuscript resources” and “Late medieval manuscripts of inferior quality” and so forth.  But this collides with what we see in John 6:65-7:16, where minuscule 4 has less corruption than Codex Sinaiticus.  (This calculation is made, remember, using the NA27 compilation as the standard for comparison.  If the Byzantine Text were used as the standard of comparison instead, then 4 would only have 52 letters’ worth of corruption in this passage (half of which would be in 7:8), and Codex Sinaiticus would still have over twice that amount.)
          If the rate of corruption were even in all transmission-streams, then we could expect late manuscripts to be more corrupt than early ones.  But direct evaluations of sample-passages show that the rates of corruption in different transmission-streams were not the same.  About 260 years after the Gospel of John was written, Codex Sinaiticus had more corruptions in John 6:65-7:16 than minuscule 4 had at the end of a 1,100-year-long transmission-stream.
          To sum up:  even though the copyist of 4 made a major mistake in John 7:8, the text of 4 still has less corruption in John 6:65-7:16 than Codex Sinaiticus.  To be precise:  4 has 106 letters’ worth of corruption (45 non-original letters gained; 61 original letters lost – and six transpositions) and Codex Sinaiticus has 122 letters’ worth of corruption (39 non-original letters gained; 83 original letters lost – and seven transpositions).  Once again the famous heavyweight has lost to a younger opponent.

          (A tangential note:  Papyrus 66, Papyrus 75, and Codex Vaticanus read ουπω in John 7:8, thus agreeing with the usual Byzantine reading, and disagreeing with Codex Sinaiticus.)

          [Readers are invited to double-check the data and the math in this post.]

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Why Codex Sinaiticus Doesn't Say What Its Website Says It Says

The website of Codex Sinaiticus
has been online since 2009
How important is Codex Sinaiticus as a witness to the text of the New Testament?  So important that it has its own website, which features an English translation of portions of the manuscript’s contents, including the entire New Testament.

Or does it?  The home page of the website gives visitors no reason to reach any other conclusion about the English translation – but if one pokes around a bit, searching for information about the translation, this note can be found:
English translation
The Codex Sinaiticus Project was primarily a conservation, digitisation, transcription and publication project.  It did not aim to undertake a new English translation of the writings preserved in the manuscript.”

Henry Tompkins Anderson
The note continues:  “The English translation of the New Testament part of Codex Sinaiticus used on the website was taken from the translation by Henry Tompkins Anderson in The New Testament: translated from the Sinaitic manuscript discovered by Constantine Tischendorf at Mt Sinai (Cincinnati, 1918). This out-of-copyright translation does not provide a literal translation of the text in Codex Sinaiticus, but was included in the website to serve as a navigational aid.”

In other words:  when you read the English translation of the New Testament books at the Codex Sinaiticus website, you are not really reading an English translation of the contents of Codex Sinaiticus!  You are reading a translation made by Henry Tompkins Anderson, who was a Christian preacher in Harrodsburg, Kentucky in the 1860’s – a translation which at many points does not represent the text of Codex Sinaiticus.  The only way to know whether or not the English translation really conveys what Codex Sinaiticus says is to compare the translation to the Greek text itself.   

          Here are fifteen of the many disagreements between the translation at the Codex Sinaiticus website and the text of the manuscript.  

Matthew 5:19:  Whoever therefore shall make void one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of the heavens; but whoever shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens.

          In Codex Sinaiticus, the copyist skipped the Greek words represented by “but whoever shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens.”  This blunder was caused when a copyist’s line of sight drifted ahead to similar letters; the technical term for the recurrence of similar letters or words, eliciting such mistakes, is homoeoteleuton (“same ending”).  

Matthew 7:27:  “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell; and great was its fall.”

          The copyist of Codex Sinaiticus skipped the Greek words represented by “and the winds blew,” another mistake elicited by homoeoteleuton.

 Matthew 8:13:  “And Jesus said to the centurion:  Go; as thou hast believed, be it done for thee. And the servant was restored to health in that hour.”

          The text written by the copyist of Codex Sinaiticus has a bit more text which says, “And the centurion, returning to his house in that hour, found his servant in good health.”   This is a very bad attempt at harmonization, loosely based on the parallel in Luke 7:10.  (Also, considering that this verse ends the standard Gospels-lection to be read annually on the fourth Sunday after Pentecost, the expansion may be an early attempt to round off the anecdote with a flourish.)

Matthew 12:13:  “Then he says to the man: Stretch forth thy hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored to soundness as the other.”

          Codex Sinaiticus’ copyist did not write the Greek words that mean “as the other.”

Matthew 12:47:  And some one said to him: Behold, thy mother and thy brothers stand with out, seeking to speak to thee.

          In Codex Sinaiticus, this verse is missing.  This appears to have been elicited by another case of homoeoteleuton; verses 46 and 47 end with the same word.  

Matthew 23:35:  “that there may come on you all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous to the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.”

          The text of Codex Sinaiticus does not have the Greek equivalent of the words “son of Barachiah.”  This could be another example of parablepsis (the technical term for the “sight detours” that sometimes occurred when a copyist lost his line of sight, especially due to homoeoteleuton or to homoeoarcton (same beginning, or similar beginnings, of words).  But it may also be a copyist’s attempt to remove a perceived difficulty from the text, if the copyist understood this passage to refer to the events in Second Chronicles 24:20-22, and believed that that this passage in Matthew referred to Zechariah the priest – who was the son of Jehoida, rather than the son of Barachiah – instead of the prophet Zechariah.

Matthew 27:48-50:  “And immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, and having filled it with vinegar and put it on a reed, gave it to him to drink.  But the rest said: Wait, let us see if Elijah is coming to save him.  But Jesus again cried out with a loud voice, and gave up the spirit.”

          In Codex Sinaiticus (and in Codex Vaticanus) there is additional material after verse 49.  Codex Sinaiticus says, “But another took a spear and pierced his side, and water and blood flowed forth.”  Now I invite those apologists who commonly claim that textual variants do not have an impact on significant Christian doctrine to explain how, if this variant were to be adopted into the text, the doctrine of inerrancy would survive.  It is obvious that this reading in Codex Sinaiticus says that Jesus was pierced before He died, and it is equally obvious that John 19:30-37 says that Jesus was pierced after He died.  Let it be noted that there is more Greek manuscript support for the inclusion of this sentence than there is for the non-inclusion of Mark 16:9-20.  (Codex Sinaiticus also lacks the Greek equivalent of the words “of them” in verse 48.)   

Mark 7:4a:  “And when they come from market, unless they immerse themselves, they eat not.”

          In Codex Sinaiticus (and in Codex Vaticanus), the Greek word βαπτισωνται, which refers to washing by immersion in water, has been replaced by ραντισωνται, which refers to washing by the pouring of water.    

 Luke 8:47:  And the woman, seeing that she had not escaped notice, came trembling, and having fallen before him told before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she had been immediately restored to health.”

          The Greek text in Codex Sinaiticus is much shorter, omitting all the words in bold print, so that the text simply says, “And falling before Him, she told before all the people how she had been immediately restored to health.”

John 4:19-20:  “The woman says to him:  Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.  Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where we ought to worship.”

          The copyist of Codex Sinaiticus did not write Κύριε (the Greek word for “Lord,” rendered as “Sir” in this context) in verse 19, and also did not write ὁ τόπος (“the place”) in verse 20.  

John 9:37-39:  “Jesus said to him:  Thou hast both seen him, and he it is that talks with thee.  He said, Lord, I believe; and he worshiped him.  And Jesus said:  For judgment have I come into this world, that those that see not may see, and that those that see may become blind.”

          The copyist of Codex Sinaiticus did not write the bold-print words in verses 38 and 39.  These words are also missing in Papyrus 75 and Codex W – apparently the result of an early Alexandrian copyist’s misunderstanding of an exemplar in which the passage was marked for liturgical use.

John 10:40:  “And he went away again beyond the Jordan into the place where John was first baptizing, and abode there.”

          Codex Sinaiticus’ copyist did not write the Greek words εις τον τόπον.  There is nothing to elicit an accidental mistake here.  This reading is probably a deliberate omission by someone who considered these words superfluous.

First Corinthians 13:3:  “And though I give all my goods away in food, and though I deliver up my body that I may be burned, but have not love, I am profited nothing.”

          Instead of the usual reading καυθήσωμαι, Codex Sinaiticus (and Papyrus 46 and Codex Vaticanus) reads καυχήσωμαι, which means, “that I may boast.” 

Second Peter 1:1:  “Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those that have obtained equally precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

          This verse is sometimes used as proof that the author affirmed the deity of Christ, particularly when the Granville Sharp rule is applied to it.  However, with or without the Granville Sharp rule, Codex Sinaiticus does not support the deity of Christ in this verse:  instead of the name-abbreviation for the word “God” (Θυ, that is, Θεου), Codex Sinaiticus’ copyist wrote the name-abbreviation for the word “Lord” (Κυ, that is, Κυριου).  I doubt that a modern translation with this reading could easily escape the charge that it was produced by Arians.

Jude verse 3a:  Beloved, giving all diligence to write to you concerning this common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you.”   

          The actual reading of Codex Sinaiticus is different:  instead of referring only to salvation, the text of Codex Sinaiticus refers to “our common salvation and life.”  This is a remarkable reading, because it is a conflation, or combination, of two other readings:  σωτηρίας (salvation, the reading found in most manuscripts) and ζωης (life, the reading found in a group of medieval manuscripts known as family 2138, also called the Harklean Group because the text in these manuscripts frequently agrees with the Harklean Syriac version).  Although the Greek manuscripts in this group are not particularly ancient, the reading of Codex Sinaiticus in this verse suggests that ancestor-manuscripts with a text of the General Epistles similar to what is attested by the members of family 2138 – minuscule manuscripts such as 1505, 1611, 2138, and 2412 – existed prior to the production of Codex Sinaiticus.

          As you can see, as a representation of the contents of Codex Sinaiticus, the translation made by H. T. Anderson is highly inaccurate.  If the Codex Sinaiticus website is going to continue using Anderson’s translation, its creators should take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that visitors cannot use Anderson’s translation without being informed that it is provided for navigation-purposes only and that it deviates frequently from the actual text of the manuscript.  There is no good reason to hide this important explanation on a secondary webpage.  (Another option, of course, is to adjust the translation so as to accurately conform to the contents of the manuscript.)