Sunday, August 6, 2017

More Cracks in Nestle-Aland 28 (Acts-Revelation)

            In the previous post, I described some passages in the Gospels where the rival variants may receive different treatment in future editions of the critical text of the Greek New Testament, and/or in English translations based on it – including a few passages where the editors may adopt readings with no Greek manuscript-support, as the editors of the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece recently did in Second Peter 3:10.  Today, let’s look at a dozen passages in the rest of the New Testament which may be similarly vulnerable to the effects of thoroughgoing eclecticism.

Acts 6:9 – The scholar Friedrich Blass (1843-1907), in the course of his detailed study of the Greek text of the Gospels and Acts, detected something abnormal about the mention of Libertines in Acts 6:9:  why did Luke resort to Λιβερτίνων, a Latin-based term, rather than simply write Ἀπελεύθεροι?  And why, followed by various geographically based terms, is this one not also geographically based? 
            Such questions elicited a search for answers.  Blass discovered that he was not the first reader to hum upon encountering the term Λιβερτίνων in this verse.  A long line of researchers, going all the way back to Beza, had sensed that something about this word was amiss. 
            Blass was informed by J. Rendel Harris that in the Armenian version, the reference was not to Libertines, but to Libyans.  How, though, could a reference to Libyans ever be misconstrued as Libertines?  And if the Armenian version’s base-text had referred to Libertines, how did the Armenian version end up with Libyans?  With remarkable determination, Blass dug a little deeper into this puzzle, and discovered, among the Latin poems of Catullus, the use of a rare term that satisfied his curiosity; transliterated into Greek, it is Λιβυστίνων – inhabitants of the area west of Cyrene.      
            This conjectural emendation resembles the extant text; it fits the context, it makes sense, and it introduces nothing problematic.  Future editors may reason that the rareness of the term Λιβυστίνων provoked early copyists to misread it, and also provoked the translators of the Armenian version to loosely approximate its meaning with a more familiar term.       

● Acts 7:46 – Working within the extant evidence, textual critics must choose between the statement that David asked to be allowed to find a dwelling-place for the God of Jacob (a reading supported by Codices A, C, E, 1739, the vast majority of manuscripts, and broad versional evidence), or a dwelling-place for the house of Jacob (which is the reading in the Nestle-Aland compilation, and which is supported by a small cluster of early manuscripts, including Papyrus 74, Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, and Bezae). 
            The Alexandrian reading is certainly more difficult, because it seems to say that David asked to build a house for a house.  Even when the second “house” is understood to refer to the nation descended from Jacob, the problem does not go away, since the temple was for God, not for the people, who were not looking for a new residence in the days of David. 
            The reading οἴκω (“house”) has been considered too difficult by some textual critics, including Hort, who wrote in 1881, “οἴκω can hardly be genuine,” but rather than accept the Byzantine reading, he proposed that probably neither reading is original.  Instead, he conjectured that the original text was τω Κυριω (“the Lord”), which was contracted to ΤΩ ΚΩ, which was misread by inattentive copyists as ΤΩΟΙΚΩ.  If future editors of the Nestle-Aland compilation are unwilling to adopt Hort’s conjecture, they might at least acknowledge the force of his admission of the implausibility of the Alexandrian reading, and adopt the other reading, for which the diversity of the external support is very impressive.        

Acts 12:25 – In the description of the action taken by Barnabas and Saul in this verse, there is a four-horse race, so to speak: 
            ἀπο Ἰερουσαλὴμ (“from Jerusalem”), supported by Codex D, Ψ, 614, several Old Latin copies, a significant minority of Byzantine manuscripts, the Vulgate, et al.
            εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ (“to Jerusalem”), supported by Codices א, B, and most Byzantine manuscripts.
            ἐξ Ἰερουσαλὴμ (“from Jerusalem”), supported by Papyrus 74, Codex A, et al.                       
            ἐξ Ἰερουσαλὴμ εἰς Ἀντιόχιαν (“from Jerusalem to Antioch”), supported by Codex E, 1739, the Peshitta, the Sahidic version, et al.
            The most difficult option is the variant with εἰς, because (1) when last seen in the narrative (in 11:30), Paul and Barnabas were already going to Jerusalem, and (2) in the very next scene (at the beginning of chapter 13), Paul and Barnabas are present at Antioch, not at Jerusalem.  Even though εἰς is in the Nestle-Aland compilation, some translators of modern versions have rejected this reading; for example, the NASB states, “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem,” implying a base-text with either ἀπο or ἐξ.  The ESV reads identically (as of 10:00 p.m., August 4, 2017):  “And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem.”  The NIV also rejects εἰς, stating, “When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem.” 
            Nobody (other than avid advocates of the Peshitta) seems to think that the longest reading is original, because it looks like just the sort of textual adjustment that a copyist might make to alleviate a difficulty.  The contest, then, is between εἰς, ἐξ, and ἀπο.  Theoretically, if, in a scriptorium where a group of copyists worked from dictation, their supervisor read ἐξ, a copyist could mishear it as εἰς – but the theory works as well in the opposite direction. 
            Thoroughgoing eclecticism turns the race into a five-horse contest.  Hort suggested in 1881 that the original word-order has been garbled by copyists, and that the original text read τὴν εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ πληρώσαντες διακονίαν, so as to merely report that Barnabas and Saul returned, having completed their service in Jerusalem.  F. F. Bruce, whose confident comments about the reliability of New Testament manuscripts have been thoroughly recycled by many apologists, did not refuse to embrace a conjectural emendation in this passage; he held that in the original text there was no prepositional phrase at all, and that marginal glosses have impacted the text in Acts 12:25 in all extant manuscripts.
            Although textual critics often regard a higher degree of difficulty as a quality of the most-likely-original reading, it is possible that future editors may regard the currently printed reading here as simply too difficult, and either adopt ἐξ, or adopt ἀπο, or resort to conjectural emendation.     

Acts 20:28 – Bruce Metzger dedicated a full two pages of his Textual Commentary to a consideration of this passage.  The initial question is, did the original text refer to “the church of God,” or to “the church of the Lord,” or to “the church of the Lord and God”?  Like John 1:18, the contest between “God” and “Lord” is a contest amounting to the difference of a single letter, once one accounts for the contraction of sacred names:  Θεοῦ (“of God”) becomes ΘΥ and Κυρίου (“of the Lord”) becomes ΚΥ.
            If that contest is decided in favor of Θεοῦ (on the grounds that this is supported by ﬡ, B, the Vulgate, the Peshitta, and a significant minority of Byzantine manuscripts, including the Textus Receptus), then a second question arises:  did Luke report that Paul stated that God purchased the church with His own blood?  Many an apologist has used this verse to demonstrate Paul’s advocacy of the divinity of Christ, inasmuch it was neither the Father, nor the Spirit, whose blood was shed.  Hort, however, expressed a suspicion (which, it seems, was first expressed in 1797 by Georg Christian Knapp) that at the end of the verse, following the words διὰ τοῦ αἴματος τοῦ ἰδίου (“through His own blood”), there was originally the word υἱοῦ (“Son”).      
            It is possible that future editors, may decide that the inclusion of υἱοῦ in this verse is required by internal evidence, and that it is feasible that the word υἱοῦ was accidentally lost very early via a common parableptic error (when a copyist’s line of sight drifted from the letters ΙΟΥ at the end of ἰδίου to the same letters at the end of υἱοῦ.  Already, the Contemporary English Version, advertised as “an accurate and faithful translation of the original manuscripts,” has the word “Son” in its text of Acts 20:28b:  “Be like shepherds to God’s church.  It is the flock that he bought with the blood of his own Son.”  A footnote informs the CEV’s readers about the meaning of the extant text.
First Corinthians 6:5 – The Greek evidence, from Papyrus 46 to the Textus Receptus, is in agreement about how this verse ends.  However, the Peshitta – a Syriac version traceable to the late 300’s (followed by a period of standardization), but possibly earlier – disagrees.  The reading in the Peshitta implies that its Greek base-text included the phrase καὶ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ (“and a brother”). 
            The momentum for this reading is drawn from a grammatical oddity in the usual Greek text.  The first part of Paul’s statement in this verse is something to the effect of, “Is there not even one person among you – just one! – who shall be able to judge between” – and that’s where the difficulty appears, because the Greek text just mentions one brother, whereas the idea of judgment between two parties seems to demand that more than one brother should be mentioned. 
            The KJV’s translators, although the Textus Receptus reads ἀνα μέσον τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ (“between his brother” – which is clearly singular), concludes the verse with “between his brethren” (which is clearly plural).  The NET is similar (“between fellow Christians”); the difference is due to the NET’s enlightened gender-neutral treatment of the term ἀδελφοῦ, not to any new feature in the Greek base-text.  The CSB, the NIV, and even the NASB likewise render the text as if the verse ends with a plural word rather than a singular one.  All such treatments of the text make the problem all the obvious:  the first part of the sentence, in Greek, anticipates two brothers, while the second part of the sentence mentions only one.             
            In light of such strong internal evidence, Michael Holmes, the compiler of the SBLGNT, recommended the adoption of a conjectural emendation at this point, so that καὶ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ (“and the brother”) appears at the very end of the verse.  It is possible that future compilers of the Nestle-Aland text will concur.  If that happens, it will have hardly any effect on English translations, most of which already translate the passage as if the wording proposed by Dr. Holmes is extant in the manuscripts.   

Galatians 4:25 – For almost 300 years, a scholarly debate has orbited part of this verse.  The phrase “Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia” is presently in the Nestle-Aland compilation (as τὸ δὲ Ἁγὰρ Σινᾶ ὅρος ἐστιν ἐν τῇ Ἀραβίᾳ, though this is contested by four slightly different rival forms).  However, it has been proposed that the entire phrase originated as a marginal note, and does not belong in the text.  This conjecture goes back at least as far as Richard Bentley (a gifted British cleric, 1662-1742, who advanced the field of New Testament textual criticism more than anyone else in his generation).  Recently Stephen Carlson, who has conducted a stemmatics-based analysis of the text of Galatians, has argued in favor of the same idea.  (Robert Waltz, however, retained the phrase in his compilation of the text of Galatians.)  If future editors of NTG concur with Carlson, the phrase might be exiled to the footnotes.

A Syriac manuscript at Saint
Catherine's Monastery displays
an adjustment of the text of
Hebrews 2:9.
(Charley Ellis pointed out this
feature of the MS to me.)
● Hebrews 2:9 – In Bart Ehrman’s 2005 book Misquoting Jesus, the author noted that instead of reading χάριτι θεοῦ (“by the grace of God”), a smattering of witnesses supports χωρὶς θεοῦ (“without God”).  Origen, in the 200’s, was aware of both variants.  Opposing an array of witnesses that includes Papyrus 46, Vaticanus, Sinaiticus, Claromontanus, the Byzantine Text, and broad versional support, Ehrman proposed that χωρὶς θεοῦ was the original reading, and that an early copyist altered the text so that it said something less provocative – and this unknown copyist was so influential that his alteration has affected almost all extant Greek copies of Hebrews.
            As Ehrman noted in his book, the existence of the variant χωρὶς θεοῦ has been accounted for by some textual critics via the idea that it was written in the margin by someone who intended for the phrase to be a qualification of the sentiment of the preceding verse – the idea being that all things except God were subject to the authority of Christ – an exception mentioned by Paul in First Corinthians 15:27.  Resisting this proposal, Ehrman objected that if this had been an annotator’s intent, “Would he not have written “except for God” (EKTOS THEOU – the phrase that actually occurs in the I Corinthians passage) rather than “apart from God (CHŌRIS THEOU – a phrase not found in I Corinthians)?” 
            Ehrman’s objection loses much force when one observes that the phrase EKTOS THEOU does not, in fact, occur anywhere in First Corinthians.  Ehrman also overstates the evidence when he claims that “Origen tells us that this [χωρὶς θεοῦ] was the reading of the majority of manuscripts in his own day,” for Origen cites this reading and then says that some copies have the other reading, χάριτι θεοῦ; nowhere does Origen say that his collection of manuscripts at Caesarea was typical of the manuscripts of Hebrews that existed throughout the world.  Most readers of Ehrman’s book, however, will probably not double-check his confidently worded assertions.
            Centuries ago, the devout scholar John Bengel (1687-1752) cautiously favored the reading χωρὶς θεοῦ and argued that its meaning is not scandalous, but theologically profound.  Bengel proposed that it was intended to mean that the Son of God, and not God the Father, tasted death for everyone – an idea that is consistent with the text of Hebrews 1:3, where, in Papyrus 46 and the Byzantine Text, Jesus is said to have made atonement by Himself
            Another theory, wounded but not killed by the grammatical quirk that it involves, proposes that χωρὶς θεοῦ is original, and that the author intended to thus qualify the words ὑπὲρ παντὸς (“for all”), so as to convey the idea that Christ tasted death for everyone except God.  This is how Origen interpreted this variant, without dogmatically deciding in favor of either variant.
            Meanwhile, F. F. Bruce proposed an alternative solution:  he conjectured that χωρὶς θεοῦ originated as a note in the margin, and that subsequently a copyist replaced that note with one that read χάριτι θεοῦ, and that both readings have slid into the text – in other words, Bruce suspected that neither phrase is original! 

● Hebrews 11:11 –As the list of variants in the textual apparatus of the STEP-Bible shows, the textual racetrack in Hebrews 11:11 is crowded with rival variants.  This sort of contest is difficult for the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method – the newly developed mapping-program used by some of the Nestle-Aland editors – to handle.  Researcher J. Harold Greenlee (a scholar in the same league as Bruce Metzger), proposed that the original text of this verse did not contain σπεῖρα or ἡ σπεῖρα (that is, it did not specifically say that Sarah was barren).  Michael Holmes’ SBLGNT likewise does not have σπεῖρα or ἡ σπεῖρα in its text. 
            This constitutes preference for a Byzantine reading (supported by ﬡ, A, and minuscules 33 and 1175, et al).  The effect of this textual decision (and some nuanced syntax-related translational decisions) can be seen via a comparison of the text of the NIV 2011 (which adopts it) and the text of the 1973 NIV (which does not):
            NIV 1973:  “By faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise.” 
            NIV 2011:  “And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise.”
            Whether future editors will continue this trend remains to be seen, particularly because the loss of σπεῖρα can be attributed to parableptic error, when a copyist’s like of sight drifted from the last two letters of Σάρρα (“Sarah”) to the same two letters in σπεῖρα (“barren”).    
● Hebrews 11:37 – In the list of the sufferings of spiritual heroes, one of those things is not like the others:  they are all somewhat unusual experiences, except for ἐπειράσθησαν, “they were tempted.”  Some textual critics have suspected that this word originated when a copyist committed dittography – writing twice what should be written once; in this case, the preceding word ἐπρίσθησαν (“they were sawn in two”), and that subsequent copyists, not realizing the mistake in their exemplar, changed it into something meaningful.  Others have thought that this relatively common term replaced one that was less common – perhaps ἐπάθησαν (“they were pierced”) or ἐπράσθησαν (“they were sold”). 
            Presently the Nestle-Aland compilation, deviating from the 25th edition, simply does not include ἐπειράσθησαν in the text, adopting instead the reading of Papyrus 46, which is very ancient.  Papyrus 13, however, is also very ancient, and appears to support the inclusion of ἐπειράσθησαν, in which case it has a very impressive array of allies.  I would advise readers to not get used to the NTG’s current form of this verse, for it seems to be merely a place-holder that might be blown away by the appearance of even the slightest new evidence, and even by an intrinsically appealing conjecture.    

● First Peter 3:19 – What may be the most popular conjectural emendation of all time was favored by the erudite textual expert J. Rendel Harris (1852-1941), who encountered a form of it in William Bowyer’s 1782 book Critical Conjectures and Observations on the New Testament.  The extant text of First Peter 3:19 says, “in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison.”  Verse 18 refers to Christ, and nobody else is introduced into the text, so verse 19 has been interpreted to mean that during the time between Jesus’ death and resurrection, He visited the realm of the dead – specifically visiting the spirits of those who had been disobedient in the days of Noah, prior to the great flood – and delivered a message (ἐκήρυξεν) to them. 
            Harris, however, proposed that the original text was different.  He thought that Peter had in mind a scene that is related in the pseudepigraphical amalgamation known as the Book of Enoch (the first section of which is quoted by Jude in verses 14-15 of his epistle), in which Enoch is depicted delivering a message of condemnation to the fallen spirits who corrupted human beings so thoroughly that the great flood was introduced as the means of amputating the moral infection they had induced.
            Specifically, what Harris proposed was that the opening words of the original text of 3:19 were ἐν ᾧ καὶ Ἐνώχ (“in which also Enoch”), thus assigning the subsequent action not to Christ, but to Enoch.  (A variation on this idea is that the original text read Ἐνώχ instead of ἐν ᾧ καὶ.) 
            (It should, perhaps, be noted that Irenaeus, in Against Heresies Book 4,16:2, took for granted the veracity of the tradition that Enoch had brought God’s message to fallen angels; these fallen angels being the “sons of God” mentioned in Genesis 6:2-4.)
            How could the name “Enoch” have fallen out of the sentence?  In two ways:
            1.  If the original text were simply Ἐνώχ (without ἐν ᾧ καὶ), then, in uncial letters, the χ was susceptible to being misread as a και-compendium (that is, a common abbreviation for the word και (“and”)).  A copyist could easily decide to write the whole word instead of the abbreviation, and thus Enoch’s name would become ἐν ᾧ καὶ.
            2.  If the original text were ἐν ᾧ καὶ Ἐνώχ, a copyist, reading the χ as a και-compendium, could assume that the scribe who made his exemplar had inadvertently repeated three words, and, attempting a correction, remove “Ἐνώχ.”
            Against the charge that the introduction of Enoch’s name “disturbs the otherwise smooth context” (as Metzger claimed in 1963) the answer may be given that a reference to Enoch is not out of place, inasmuch as Enoch’s story sets the stage for the story of Noah and his family, whose deliverance through water Peter frames as a sort of pattern of the salvation of the church.
               Future compilers willing to engage in conjectural emendation might consider the internal arguments in favor of the inclusion of Enoch’s name in First Peter 3:19 to be too attractive to resist.  If that turns out to be the case, then it would certainly have some doctrinal impact, significantly diminishing the Biblical basis for the phrase “He descended into hell” found in the Apostles Creed.” 

● Jude verses 22-23 – Even though Tommy Wasserman has collated every known Greek manuscript of the book of Jude, plenty of questions remain about how that data should be interpreted.  Like Hebrews 11:11, verses 22-23 of the Epistle of Jude verse have multiple rival variants.  Here I shall spare readers the fine details of the case, and simply note that it is possible that future editors may discern here a threefold command, and that the first command from Jude is to refute (ἐλέγχετε) those who cause divisions.  Some copyists, with the earlier mention of mercy in verse 21 (ἔλεος) fresh in their minds, may have allowed their memory of it to complete the similarly started word in verse 22. 
            The reading with ἐλέγχετε is supported not only by Codices A and C* but also by members of manuscript-clusters represented by  minuscule 1739 and minuscule 1611; both of these clusters have special weight (as the echoes of distinct and ancient transmission-lines) in the Catholic (General) Epistles.  Even though the Nestle-Aland editors have already sifted through the text of Jude, they might take another look at this variation-unit. 

● Revelation 7:6 More than one commentator on the book of Revelation has admitted to being puzzled by a feature of the list of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:  inasmuch as the tribe of Joseph is included, why is the tribe of Manasseh (Joseph’s son) also listed, but not Ephraim?  Another question:  why, in the extant Greek manuscripts of Revelation 7:6, is Manasseh’s name spelled in so many different ways?  
            A conjectural emendation answers both of those questions:  in the original text, the last portion of verse 6 did not refer to the tribe of Manasseh, but to the otherwise unmentioned tribe of Dan, and an early copyist misread ΔΑΝ as ΜΑΝ, and understood it to be an abbreviation of Manasseh’s name.  Thus ΜΑΝ originated, and different copyists with different orthography proceeded to spell out the name.  The Bohairic version supports this idea; in this verse the Bohairic text does not refer to Manasseh, but to Dan.  Perhaps future advocates of thoroughgoing eclecticism, on the strength of the Bohairic reading’s intrinsic appeal, will bring ΔΑΝ into the text.

In Conclusion . . . 

            Some readers, looking over these passages, and the passages from the Gospels described in the preceding post, may feel a measure of consternation, particularly because seven of them – in Matthew 1:16, Matthew 28:19, Mark 1:1, John 1:18, Acts 20:28, Hebrews 2:9, and First Peter 3:19 – have been used as a basis for establishing doctrine.  However, only in the case of First Peter 3:19, and the teaching that Christ visited imprisoned spirits, could it be argued that a doctrine stands or falls on the acceptance or rejection of a particular reading or conjecture (and even then, a case could be made that Paul teaches essentially the same doctrine in Ephesians 3:9-10, minus the specificity in First Peter).  
            (Apologists for Islam may sense a different sort of consternation, inasmuch as even with the allowance of conjectural emendation in the picture, the application of thoroughgoing eclecticism elicits nothing remotely close to the level of textual alteration that would bring the doctrinal teachings of the New Testament into harmony with the teachings of the Quran.  The charge, often made by Muslim apologists, that the New Testament agreed with the Quran until Christian copyists altered the text of the New Testament, simply lacks a historical foundation.)      
              It is sometimes said (because Bruce Metzger said it) that New Testament textual criticism is both an art and a science.  But it should be all science, and not art, because it is an enterprise of reconstruction, not construction.  Its methods may validly be creative and inventive – even intuitive – but not its product.  Conjectural emendation is the only aspect of textual criticism that involves the researcher’s artistic or creative skill. 
            No conjectural emendation should ever be placed in a compilation of the text of the Greek New Testament.  At the same time, the task of proposing possible readings which account for their rivals, or which otherwise resolve perceived oddities in the extant text, serves a valuable purpose:  to demonstrate the enormous weight of the intrinsic evidence in favor of such readings in the event that they are ever discovered in a Greek manuscript. 


Quotations from the ESV have been taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Quotations from the NIV (2011 edition) have been taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®  Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations marked CSB have been taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers.  Used by permission.  Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.

Scripture quotations marked NASB taken from the New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked CEV are taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV), Copyright ©  1995 by American Bible Society.

Quotations designated NET are from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

The NIV (1973 edition, no longer in print) is Copyright © 1973 by New York Bible Society International, and published by The Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506, USA.

Misquoting Jesus:  The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, is Copyright © 2005 by Bart D. Ehrman, and published by HarperCollins Publishers, New York, New York.  All rights reserved.


Stephen Goranson said...

I offer another explanation of the list of 12 tribes in Rev. 7 in "The Exclusion of Ephraim in Rev. 7:4-8 and Essene Polemic Against Pharisees," Dead Sea Discoveries 2.1 (1995)80-85. If interested, it's available here:
Stephen Goranson

Daniel Buck said...

ἐπρίσθησαν refers to being sawn, not burnt.

James Snapp Jr said...

Daniel Buck,
Correction made; thanks.

Unknown said...

In your conclusion: "a case could be made that Paul teaches essentially the same doctrine in Ephesians 2:9-10, minus the specificity in First Peter." I think you probably meant to reference Ephesians 3:9-10. Though FWIW, I wouldn't see this passage as making a similar point to that made in 1 Pt. 3. Assuming the interpretation of 1 Pt. 3 mentioned above, an actual proclamation would be in view, whereas Eph. 3:9-10 is about God's wisdom being made known not by proclamation but by the very existence of the church, by the realization of God's plan. And then there's the question of audience - a distinction to be made between the spirits in prison & the spiritual rulers & powers, these two groups perhaps being different.

Andrew said...

You make an interesting note here about Dan in Revelation chapter 7, but I would add there exist some reasons to explain the tribe's omission here for a number of Old Testament reasons, such as: Dan being the only tribe not mentioned anywhere in the genealogy of 1 Chronicles 4-7, and the only tribe to remove their residence outside of the original allotted area according to Joshua. We read of the events in Judges 18, where they relocated to the far north at the place that's now called Dan, reminding one a little bit of Isaiah 14:13. The prophecy by Jacob at the end of Genesis regarding Dan could also seem to figure particularly into all of this. So, it is not like there is no way to possibly explain this feature of Revelation chapter 7 with Dan's omission.

Regarding Christ descending into hell, I believe this is referred to in Acts 2:31 and in its connection to Jonah 2:6. And regarding First Peter 3:19, the antecedent carrying over from the previous verse is Christ, but the antecedent being referred to in this verse, we should also add, is said here to have preached "by the Spirit."

From a doctrinal perspective, looking at these details carefully, I am reminded of passages such as Hebrews 11:4, whereby Abel is mentioned to "yet speak" by the "witness," that is the witness of what he had done, despite not being present in person. I am also reminded of a good explanation of Matthew 11:14 and the prophecy in Malachi regarding Elijah speaking, along these lines as well. Specifically how it is said to be his "voice," even if John the Baptist is the preacher.

In the same way here, I believe Peter speaks of Jesus Christ, who (by the Spirit) preached unto the "spirits [which are now] in prison," and, (this is the key part here), "Which sometime were disobedient" as it says in the next verse, First Peter 3:20. The full picture that is presented then, regarding the individuals referred to in First Peter 3:19, is that they are presently spirits in prison, but we are also reminded that at the time before, that is, when they were being preached to, they were then being disobedient. In this view, Peter says that Christ preached by the Spirit to those who were once disobedient, during the days of Noah. So, Christ preached to them too - specifically, by the Spirit - and preachers, such as Noah, would have been God's prophets to those lost souls then. By this means it was possible for Christ to preach to them, namely, by the Spirit. And so, just as Abel "yet speaks," even today, as it says, in Hebrews 11:4, so too is Christ able to preach to those in Noah's day, as He has accomplished and performed, by the Spirit. So then, in light of the statement by Jesus in Luke 23:43, I don't see this verse in First Peter as referring to an event that happened right before Christ's Resurrection (during the time after His crucifixion). Rather that is referred to quite directly in Acts 2:31, and the Jonah 2:6 and Psalm 16:10 connection, and to insert Enoch's name into 1 Peter 3:19 would not therefore bear on these other passages or this explanation. Hope that makes sense, and God bless!


Andrew said...

So the change that the NET, RSV and NRSV place at the end of Acts 20:28 ("the blood of his own Son" instead of "his own blood") could simply be because Hort made a remark about it. And one is reminded this is another one of the infinite number of possible emendations (vis a vis Acts 16:12, 2 Peter 3:10) others might fancifully create; perhaps a few generations later, inserting on such a basis as if it were fact into their Greek New Testament editions. I feel it's necessary to point out that it seems truly like the spirit of corruption or adulteration toward God's word, which was spoken of by Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:17 continues until today, if so.

One man or perhaps a few propose the emendations, and much later others (who, perhaps avoiding to acknowledge the brute act of it) finish the whole dirty business by treating said musings as venerable and worthy of inclusion in their editions. What a tenuous basis this would be if these things are so. I am glad however that these facts all seem to speak to (and help confirm) the eternal truth of what Peter said in First Peter 1:23; indeed, Isaiah 40:8 and elsewhere. Regarding the sad and poor corruptibility of man's word and how it keeps being changed, as it says: "this scripture must needs have been fulfilled."

Thanks for this article.