Sunday, April 24, 2022

Luke 2:22 - His, Her, or Their?

          In Luke 2:22, there is a mildly famous – or infamous – textual variant which involves the Textus Receptus, the base-text of the KJV:  did Luke write that “the days of her [that is, Mary’s] purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished”?  That is how the passage is read in the KJV.  The NKJVMEV, the Rheims New Testament, the New Life Version, the NIrV, and the Living Bible read similarly.  The phrase is different, however – referring to the days of their purification – in the ASV, CSB,  EHV, EOB-NT, ESV, NASB, NET, NLT, NRSV, and WEB.  (The NIV inaccurately avoids saying either “her” or “their,” and simply says vaguely that “the time came for the purification rites.”  The Message hyper-paraphrase makes the same compromise, saying that “the days stipulated by Moses for purification were complete.”  Other versions that have rendered the passage imprecisely include the CEV, ERV, and GNT.)  

        The difference in English reflects a difference in Greek:  the KJV’s base-text (and the base-text of the Geneva Bible in the 1500s) says ατς, which means “her,” while the base-text of the EHV, EOB-NT, WEB, etc., reads ατν, which means “their.”  The text compiled by Erasmus in 1516, and the text printed by Stephanus in 1550, and the Nestle-Aland/UBS compilations have ατν. 

          This little difference is a big deal to some champions of the KJV, who regard the KJV’s base-text as something which was “refined seven times” (cf. Psalm 12:6) in the course of the first century of the printed Greek New Testament.  D. A. Waite wrote as if the reading ατν implies that Jesus was a sinner:  The word her is changed to their, thus making the Lord Jesus Christ One Who needed "purification," and therefore was a sinner!” (p. 200, Defending the King James Bible, 3rd ed., Ó 2006 The Bible for Today Press)  Will Kinney, a KJV-Onlyist, has written, “The reading of HER is admittedly a minority reading, but it is the correct one.”    


          In 1921, William H. F. Hatch, after investigated this variant, reported in the 1921 (Vol. 14) issue of Harvard Theological Review (pp. 377-381) that “The feminine pronoun ατς is found in no Greek manuscript of the New Testament.”  Quite a few manuscripts have been discovered since 1921, but I have not found any Greek manuscripts that support ατς (though it is possible that ατς might be found in very late manuscripts made by copyists who used printed Greek New Testaments as their exemplars).        
            Hatch explained that
À A B L W G D P and nearly all minuscules support ατν, and ατν is also supported by the Peshitta and by the Harklean Syriac, the Ethiopic, Armenian, and Gothic versions.  He observed that Codex Bezae (D, 05) has neither ατς nor ατν, but ατο (“his”), and at least eight minuscules (listed in a footnote as 21, 47, 56, 61, 113, 209, 220, and 254) have this reading as well.  Also, ατο is supported by the Sahidic version.  Latin texts are rather ambiguous on this point, whether Old Latin or Vulgate; the Latin eius can be understood as masculine or feminine (but not plural).  Hatch also noted that “A few authorities have no pronoun at all after καθαρισμο,” but he did not specify which ones.

          Hatch advocated a relatively not-simple hypothesis:  that most of the first two chapters of Luke were “based on a Semitic source” and in this source, the wording in the passage meant “her” purification but “Luke, or whoever translated the source into Greek, having read in the preceding verse about the circumcision and naming of Jesus, took it as masculine, ‘his purification,’ and translated it by καθαρισμο ατο.”  Hatch proposed, further, that before the time of Origen, someone realized that ατο could not be correct (inasmuch as the law of Moses says nothing about the purification of male offspring) and changed it to ατν.

          “Ατς,” Hatch wrote, “appeared as a learned correction, but its range was extremely limited until the appearance of the Complutensian edition in 1522.”    

          Those not willing to embrace Hatch’s hypothesis may be content to adopt what is in the text of most manuscripts, whether Alexandrian or Byzantine:  καθαρισμο ατν – “their purification.”  Facing D. A. Waite’s contention that texts with “their purification” are “theologically deficient,” interpreters have at least three options:  to understand (1) that Luke’s “their purification” is a reference to the custom observed by followers of Judaism in general, or, (2) that Joseph as well as Mary participated in the purification-rites, having been in contact with Mary at Jesus’ birth, or (3) that Joseph accompanied Mary in the purification-rites even though it was not required by the Mosaic law.  In no scenario does the text imply that Jesus “therefore was a sinner,” inasmuch as the purification-rites commanded in Leviticus 12 followed ceremonial uncleanness, not sinfulness.              

          Another detail in Hatch’s 1921 essay is worth pointing out:  he insisted, in his fourth footnote, that minuscule 76 is not a witness for ατς, and referred to C. R. Gregory’s examination of 76 in 1887 as support for this.  To this day, minuscule 76 is erroneously claimed to read ατς by James R. White (The KJV-Only Controversy, p. 112 in the 2009 edition; p. 68 in the 1995 edition, both published by Bethany House Publishers) – adding to the book’s many inaccuracies – and by online apologist Matt Slick, and by James D. Price, and by the notes in the NET (Dan Wallace, Senior NT editor).  This falsehood was corrected 101 years ago.  Maybe within another hundred years, some editors will repair the works of James White and the notes in the NET, et al, so that their false claim does not continue to be spread in perpetuity.                       


Monday, April 18, 2022

Vaticanus and the Shorter Ending of Mark

          Codex Vaticanus is our oldest substantial manuscript which includes most of the Gospel of Mark, having been produced around the year 325.  (P45 is older, but is missing most of its pages from Mark.)  This date is based on paleographical grounds.  We usually have no way of knowing if a scribe was young – say, 20 years old – and had just started his career as a scribe, or if he was nearing the end of his career – at, say, 70 years of age.  So there is a default degree of variation of about 50 years in either direction to most paleography-based production-dates. 

          But Christians were not likely to be capable of producing manuscripts like Codex Vaticanus – a large parchment book that probably contained, when produced, almost the entire Greek Old Testament and almost all of the New Testament (it is still debated whether or not Vaticanus initially contained the Pastoral Epistles and Revelation) – until the time when copyists could do so without the threat of Roman persecution, i.e., until 313, when Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, declaring that Christianity was a legal religion.  Another factor influencing the dating of Codex Vaticanus is something it doesn’t have:  the Eusebian Section-numbers, which are in the margin of most other Greek manuscripts of the Gospels.  The other famous very large codex from the 300s, Codex Sinaiticus, has the Eusebian Section-numbers, albeit incompletely and somewhat imprecisely. 

          With the exception of GA 304, a medieval commentary-manuscript which may have been copied from a damaged exemplar, Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are the only Greek manuscripts in which the text of the Gospel of Mark stops at 16:8.  (1420 and 2386, once cited by William Lane as if they also stopped the text of the Gospel of Mark at 16:8, have turned out to merely be damaged MSS at this point.)  The copyist of Vaticanus, though, left a blank space after Mark 16:8, including a blank column – the only blank column in the New Testament.  This blank space is sufficient to include verses 16:9-20, as I have shown here. 

          But in Egypt, there was another ending of Mark, known as the “Shorter Ending.”  It is extant (along with at least part of the usual 12 verses) in eight Greek manuscripts:  Codices L (019), Y (044), 083, 099, 274 (in the lower margin), 579, and in 1422 and 2937 (these last two MSS were recently verified by Mina Monier as witnesses to the Shorter Ending and to 16:9-20).  The Shorter Ending, followed by 16:9-20, is also found in Greek-Sahidic lectionary 1602, and in numerous Ethiopic copies.  The double-ending (SE + vv. 9-20, with marginalia) appears to have been distinctly Egyptian at first, before being adopted later adopted in several versions.

          Codex Vaticanus itself, though, is the focus of a specific question which can be answered here:  when the scribe of Vaticanus left blank space after 16:8, was he thinking about the Shorter Ending?

         The answer is, “No,” and this is shown by two things:  first, the Shorter Ending fits in the second column in the blank space following 16:8.  Thus there would be no need to leave column 3 blank.  Second, in Ad Marinum (which is available as a free download from Roger Pearse, so there is no need for commentators to keep repeating (and distorting) Metzger’s misleading context-free snippets (looking at you, Ben Witherington III)), Eusebius never mentions the Shorter Ending when, as he addresses a question about how to harmonize Matthew 28:2 and Mark 16:9, he describes what a person might say about the ending of Mark. (Eusebius wrote in the decades which immediately followed the Diocletian persecution, so it should not be imagined that he had the ability to survey MSS beyond his reach.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

The Vocabulary of Mark 16:9-20

           “The vocabulary and style of verses 9-20 are non-Markan (e.g., πιστέω, βλάπτω, βεβαιόω, πακολουθέω, θεάομαι, μετ τατα, πορεύομαι, συνεργέω, στερον are found nowhere else in Mark; and θανάσιμον and τος μετ’ αυτο γενομένοις, as designations of the disciples, occur only here in the New Testament.”  Thus wrote Bruce Metzger in his Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (p. 125, Ó 1971 by the United Bible Societies, Stuttgart, Germany). 

          Throughout Metzger’s Textual Commentary, signs of his reliance upon Hort’s Notes on Select Readings (1881) can be detected; for example, Hort wrote that “the petty historical difficulty mentioned by Marinus as to the first line of v. 9 could never have suggested the substitution of 4 colourless lines for 12 verses rich in interesting material” (p. 44) and Metzger has merely paraphrased this (in TCGNT p. 126) as “No one who had available as the conclusion of the Second Gospel the twelve verses 9-20, so rich in interesting material, would have deliberately replaced them with four lines of a colorless and generalized summary.”

          Metzger parroted Hort a little.  More recent commentators have parroted Metzger a lot, as if the first point he makes about vocabulary is  very cogent, sufficient to settle the question about whether or not Mark wrote 16:9-20.  For example, after making a lengthy quotation from Metzger, Matt Slick wrote in 2008, “In the last 11 verses under discussion there are 17 “new” words that don’t occur in the entire gospel of Mark.  It appears that someone wrote the ending of Mark and added it to the gospel because the style is different, and the vocabulary is different.”

          But Metzger never told his readers how many once-used words readers ought to expect in a twelve-verse segment of the Gospel of Mark.  This situation was remedied in 2019 by Karim al-Hanifi in the brief essay, The end of an argument on the ending of Mark, (available at  Al-Hanifi identified 696 words that Mark uses only once in Mark 1:1-16:8.  Bruce Terry, defining a “once-used word” more strictly, put the total at 555 once-used words.  Using the lower total, if we divide 555 once-used words into 659 verses (rejecting, with the Nestle-Aland compilation, Mark 7:16, 9:44, 9:46, 11:26, and 15:28, just to keep things simple) that’s an average of .84 once-used words in each verse.  So in a typical twelve-verse segment of Mark, it should not be unusual at all to find 8 once-used words.   Using Al-Hanifi’s tally, we should expect an average of .95 once-used words in each verse, averaging 11-12 once-used words in each 12-verse segment.

          There are quite a few 12-verse segments of Mark in which the rate of once-used words is significantly higher than eight, and higher than 12.  This list is based on Al-Hanifi’s essay:

          Mark 1:1-12:  17 once-used words

          2:16-27:  18 once-used words

          4:13-24:  16 once-used words

          4:25-36:  16 once-used words

          4:37-5:7:  17 once-used words

          6:49-7:4:  17 once-used words

          7:5-16:  15 once-used words

          7:17-28:  21 once-used words

          11:31-12:9:  16 once-used words (9 of which are in 12:1!)

          12:34-13:1:  19 once-used words

          13:14-25:  21 once-used words

          13:26-37:  16 once-used words

          13:38-14:12:  20 once-used words

          14:37-48:  19 once-used words

          15:13-24:  23 once-used words

          15:25-36:  15 once-used words

          15:37-16:1:  24 once-used words


Here are the top nine 12-verse segments of Mark, ranked in a most-non-Markan-words contest:

j 15:37-16:1:  24 once-used words

k 15:13-24:  23 once-used words

l 7:17-28:  21 once-used words

m 13:14-25:  21 once-used words

n 13:38-14:12:  20 once-used words

o 12:34-13:1:  19 once-used words

p 14:37-48:  19 once-used words

q 2:16-27:  18 once-used words

r 16:9-20:  18 once-used words


          The number of once-used – or, in Metzgerian spin-language, “non-Markan” words – in Mark 16:9-20 is high, but not remarkably or exceptionally high.  Mark 16:9-20 finishes the Most “Non-Markan”-Words contest in eighth or ninth place. 

          Mark 16:9-20 does have a few vocabulary-related features that don’t look fully consistent with the syntax used in Mark 1:1-16:8.  Perhaps the most notable example is the use of κείνη (16:10), κκενοι (16:11, 13), κείνοις (16:13), and κενοι (16:20) all appearing as pronouns in 16:10, 11, and 13.  But κκενον also appears in Mark 12:4-5 as a pronoun, twice.   This seems within the expressive range of any writer.  Plus, before we define “Markan style” and declare that Mark was capable of this expression but not that one, we should remember that it is not as if we are examining the style of War and Peace;  we only have 16 chapters from Mark.   

          Let’s look at some other objections:

          · Is it a glaring absence, as Travis Williams has alleged, for Mark 16:9-20 not to contain the words εθύς (“immediately”) and the πάλιν (“again”)?  Not the least little bit!  As Bruce Terry has pointed out, it is not just Mark 16:9-20 that does not employ εθύς and πάλιν; the last 53 verses of Mark do not employ them.  Terry divided the text of Mark 1:1-16:8 into 650 sets of 12 consecutive verses, and found that over 57% of such sets contain neither εθύς nor εθέως, and 61% do not have πάλιν.  More than 35% do not contain εθύς nor εθέως nor πάλιν.  It is hardly an objection,” Terry writes, “to say that the last twelve verses are in the same category with more than one-third of the sets of twelve consecutive verses in the rest of the book.”

          · Is it inconsistent for an author to write πρώτη σαββάτων in 16:9, having used μις σαββάτον in 16:2?  I suspect that if Mark 16:9 had employed μις σαββάτον, the objection would automatically be raised that a mimic has imitated Mark’s language.  Casual variations of this sort are natural and we observe them in other places in Mark.  For instance, Mark states in 5:2 that the demoniac came κ τν μνημείων, and then Mark uses different wording almost immediately in  5:3 and 5:5 (τος μνήμασιν).  Similarly, Luke wrote ν τ σάββατ and ν τος σάββασιν and τ μέρ το σαββάτου (cf. Lk. 13:10-16).

          · Is it inconsistent to write πορεύεσθαι three times (in verses 10,12, and 13), rather than to employ a compounded word (such as κπορεύσθαι)?   John Burgon addressed this objection over a century ago.  The appearance of the uncompounded words in verses 10, 12, and 13 is unique, but the word involved is also very common (like the English word “go”).  “Unless the Critics are able to shew me which of the ordinary compounds of πορεύομαι S. Mark could possible have employed for the uncompounded verb [Burgon then lists each passage where  a form of πορεύομαι is used] their objection is simply frivolous.”

          · Is it inconsistent to use θεάθη in 16:11 and θεασαμέοις in 16:14, rather than other terms (forms of ράω and βλέπω) that could have been used instead?  Again, this objection existed in Burgon’s day, and Burgon covered it thoroughly (on pp. 156-158 of The Last Twelve Verses of the Gospel According To S. Mark Vindicated, etc., 1871).  Comparable usages of unique verbiage that could be replaced with an author’s more ordinary vocabulary appear in the other Gospels too.  That Mark should use a special term to convey what were special encounters is not at all surprising.

          · Is it inconsistent to refer to Jesus’ followers in 16:10 as “those who had been with Him” (τοις μετ’ αυτου γενομένοις)?   A few moments’ thought should be sufficient for anyone to realize that the new phrase is called for by new circumstances.  On earlier occasions, Jesus’ followers had been with Him; no reason yet existed to refer to them as “those who had been with Him.”  Also, Mark uses similar language in 5:40 (τους μετ’ αυτο).  The words τοις μετ’ αυτου γενομένοις would not and could not describe Jesus’ followers in the Gospel of Mark until 14:50.  Similarly, Mark simply had no previous occasion to use terms such as ἔνδεκα (“eleven”) and θανάσιμον (“deadly thing”).

           The following points supportive of Markan authorship of 16:9-20 should not be ignored:

          (1) Mark’s fondness for presenting things in groups of three is exhibited by the arrangement of three appearances of Christ after His resurrection (to Mary Magdalene, to the two travelers, and to the eleven, with φάνη or φανερθη used each time).

          (2) Mark employs the terms ναστναι (8:31, 9:10), ναστ (9:9), and ναστήσεται (9:31, 10:34) to refer to Christ’s resurrection, although other terms could have been used.  The use of ναστς in 16:9 is thus a Markan feature.

          (3) Mark uses the word πρωϊ (in 1:35, 11:20, 13:35, 15:1, 16:2) more frequently than the other Gospel-writers.  Its presence in 16:9 supports Markan authorship.

          (4) The words in 16:15 – πορευθέντες ες τν κόσμος παντα κηρύξατε τ εαγγέλιον (“Go into all the world, preach the gospel”) resemble the words in Mark 14:9 – κηρυχθ τ εαγγέλιον ες λον τν κόσμος (“the gospel shall be preached into all the world”).

          (5) The term σκληροκαρδίαν (“hard-heartedness”) in 16:14 is somewhat uncommon, but it also appears in Mark 10:5.

          (6) Κτίσει is more Markan than it is anything else in the four Gospels (besides 16:15, forms of this word appear in Mark 10:6 and 13:19).

          (7) Κατακριθήσεται (“shall be condemned”) is Markan; cf. κατακρινοσιν in 10:33 and κατέκριναν in 14:64.

          (8) The appearance of ρρώστους in 16:18 is Markan; cf. ρρστοις in  Mark 6:5 and ρρώστους in 6:13.

          (9) Πανταχο (“everywhere”) in 16:20 is Markan, at least in the Alexandrian Text, appearing in Mark 1:28.  (A related term, either πάντοθεν or πανταχόθεν, is used in Mark 1:45.) 

           Sometimes this sneaky objection is made:  If Matthew and Luke possessed copies of Mark with 16:9-20, why didn’t they use its contents?  Let’s imagine that Mark 16:9-20 contained strong parallels with Matthew 28 and Luke 24.  The deduction by champions of the Alexandrian Text would have been automatic:  whoever created such an ending for the Gospel of Mark must have derived the parallels from Matthew and Luke!         

          This objection puts Mark 16:9-20 in a no-win scenario:  when Mark 16:9-20 doesn’t have strong parallels in Matthew 28 and Luke 24, it means that Mark 16:9-20 is spurious; yet had Mark 16:9-20 been brimming with strong parallels in Matthew 28 and Luke 24, this, too, would mean that Mark 16:9-20 is spurious!   The objection amounts to mere rhetoric.   

          The point should be raised though, that we should expect to see strong sustained parallels with Matthew or Luke or both in any ending composed to conclude the Gospel of Mark.  Since we see no such thing in Mark 16:9-20, the reasoning of Metzger on this particular point is cogent:  “It is unlikely that the long ending was composed ad hoc to fill up an obvious gap” (Textual Commentary, p. 125).    No one, trying to compose an ending for the Gospel of Mark, would write what is seen in Mark 16:9-20; the natural option would be, instead, to follow the narrative structure of Matthew 28:9-11 and 28:16-20.    

          The internal vocabulary-based evidence is is consistent with the hypothesis I have advocated in Authentic:  The Case for Mark 16:9-20:  Mark himself was permanently interrupted midway through 16:8, and his colleagues in Rome, before making any copies of Mark’s Gospel-narrative, completed his otherwise unfinished work by appending verses 9-20, having drawn them from Mark’s own writings.  As part of the text as it existed at the point when and where the production of the text in the ancestor of all copies ceased, and before the transmission of the text began, Mark 16:9-20 should be regarded as canonical and authoritative by all Christians.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Georgian Saints and their New Testament

           When looking over the “List of Greek Church Fathers” and the “List of Latin Church Fathers” in the Introduction to the UBS Greek New Testament, covering writers from Clement of Rome to John of Damascus (d. 750), did you ask, “Where’s the list of Armenian and Georgian Church Fathers?” 

          Probably not.  But an incomplete effort to improve the situation was made about 70 years ago when David Marshal Lang wrote Lives and Legends of the Georgian Saints (Ó 1656 The Macmillan Co., NY).  Lang was the Lecturer in Georgian at the University of London.  Lives and Legends of the Georgian Saints offers only a sample of rich resources that could – and should – expand our knowledge of the New Testament used by early (and later) Christian saints.  It has ten chapters.  Most of its chapters have been imitated or reproduced online.      

1 – St. Nino and the Conversion of Georgia.  This is drawn mainly from Histori Ecclesiastica (Church History) 10:11, by Tyrannius Rufinus (d. 410), and expanded by Georgian versions of Nino’s life which Lang describes as having “assumed their definitive shape” in the 900s-1000s.

          A summary can be found at this link.  A biography of St. Nino is here.  This Georgian version of events includes the narrative of Nino’s reception of the grape-vine cross when she had a vision of the Virgin Mary, and the martyrdom of princess Ripsime, a description of the idols of Armazi and Gatsi, and a story about Christ’s tunic, and about how King Mirian and Queen Nana were converted in the days of Constantine.   

2 – The Nine Martyred Children of Kola.   This account describes the conversion and martyrdom of nine children in the 500s.  Lang reports that it was drawn from a manuscript at Mount Athos from the 900s.  One interesting detail is its statement that when the children were baptized in a cold stream, in the name of the Father and the Son and they Holy Ghost, “then the water gave out great warmth, just like a bath,” which is vaguely reminiscent of the detail of Christ’s baptism, as described by the second-century writer Justin Martyr, (in Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 88) that when Jesus stepped into the water, “a fire was kindled in the Jordan.”

          The text includes an inexact quotation of either Matthew 19:29 or Mark 10:29 or Luke 14:26 (or an amalgamation of all three passages):  “Whoever will not leave his father and mother, his sisters and brothers, his wife and children, and will not take up his cross and follow me, the same is not worthy of me.”  The phrase about taking up one’s cross appears to be thrown in from Mark 8:34.            Matthew 19:29 does not mention one’s wife in Codex Vaticanus – but this word should be included in that verse, as it is not only in the Georgian text but also in an overwhelming number of witnesses of all sorts.

          Another citation is from Matthew 10:21, or Mark 13:12 (or both):  “Brother shall put brother to death, and the father the son, and fathers and mothers shall rise up against their children and kill them.”   Another interesting tradition that is mentioned in this source is that Jesus was baptized at night.

           The names of the nine martyred children of Kola are given here.

 3 – A Martyred Princess:  the Passion of St. Shushanik.  This account, Lang reports, was composed between 476 and 483 by Jacob of Tsurtav, and is the basically the oldest Georgian composition in existence.  Its protagonist is Queen Shushanik, whose husband, King Varsken, apostasized.  In the course of the description of Shushanik’s non-compliance with Varsken and his allies, the author mention s that Shushanik had a copy of the Gospels and “the holy books of the martyrs.”  Shushanik endured beatings, chains, isolation, and imprisonment in a hut full of lice and fleas, and near the end of her earthly life her body was afflicted with worms.    

          More details about the martyrdom of St. Shushanik can be found here.

4 – A Militant Ascetic:  Peter the Iberian Bishop of Mayuma by Gaza.  Lang’s account of the accomplishments of Peter the Iberian (who lived in the 400s) is mainly based on a Syriac translation of a Greek text composed by John Rufus, one of Peter the Iberian’s followers.  The earliest manuscript of this Syriac text is from the 700s.  Peter’s ministry covered a lot of ground:  first he was stationed in Jerusalem, then in Mayuma-near-Gaza, then in Alexandria, then in Oxyrhynchus, then in Alexandria again, and also in the regions of Gaza an Arabia.

          More about Peter the Iberian’s career is told by Cornelia Horn in the book Asceticism and Christological Controversy in Fifth-Century Palestine.

 5 – A Forerunner of St. Francis:  David of Garesja.  The sources for the biography of this Georgian saint are not particularly ancient.  It comes from the writings of Arsenius II of Georgia, around the mid-900s.  David of Garesja’s biography appears to have been considerably embellished over the years; it included a narrative about a talking dragon – “large and fearsome” “with bloodshot eyes and a horn growing out of his forehead.”   It also conveys a picture of David of Garesja as a person concerned for all kinds of living creatures, as shown in an episode in which he protects a partridge from the hawk of a hunter, who was converted as a result of the encounter.

 6 – The Passion of St. Eustace the Cobbler.  The individual known as Eustace was called Gvironbandak when he was a pagan, but took them name Eustace after being baptized.  Following a description of Eustace’s conversion, faithful testimony, and imprisonment, Eustace presents a summary of Biblical events, as he recollects them as they had been presented to him by an individual named Archdeacon Samuel, beginning in the days of Abraham, and moving quickly to  Moses’ reception of the Ten Commandments, David’s reign, and the Incarnation; the account then gets more detailed. 

          Eustace’s presentation of Archdeacon Samuel’s summary of Biblical events has some embellishments; for example:  the voice at Jesus’ baptism says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.  Hear him and live.”  The lame man who had been afflicted for 38 years (cf. John 5) was healed and “arose immediately and walked nimbly and glorified God.”  When Jesus turned waters into wine, it was “his disciples,” rather than the servants, who drew the water and filled the jars.  When Jesus feeds the five thousand, it happens where there was “a beautiful meadow.”  When Jesus walks on the water, according to Archdeacon Samuel, “Christ and His disciples walked on the sea as if on dry ground, and their feet were not wetted.”   At the raising of Lazarus, when Jesus says, “Lazarus, come forth,” Lazarus comes forth joyfully.

          Archdeacon Samuel also skips any mention of Jesus’ trial before Pontus Pilate, and focuses on the trial “before the high priests and elders” before His crucifixion.  The account puts a somewhat anti-Semitic spin on things; instead of recording Jesus’ prayer from the cross, Archdeacon Samuel reports that Jesus said, “My Father, I have fulfilled all things, and Israel would not hear me, but they have inflicted so great a torment as this upon me.”  After Jesus’ resurrection, in Archdeacon Samuel’s version of events, Jesus appears to the twelve disciples on Mount Tabor, and there they “kissed His sacred feet” before Christ commissioned them to “go out among the towns and villages and country places from end to end of the world and perform miracles and marvels and feats of healing, and convert the heathen and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and teach them all that I have told you.  Behold, I am with you all the days of your life and until the end of the world.  Freely you have received, and freely give to them also.  

          Eustace is eventually martyred, and his body is taken to the city of Mtskheta.

 7 – The Martyrdom of Abo, the Perfumer from Baghdad.  Abo was martyred by Muslims on January 6, 786, which puts him just a bit beyond the chronological boundaries of patristic evidence.  The account of his martyrdom was written by John, son of Saban, who was an eyewitness. 

          Abo is depicted quoting from the Matthew 5:16 (without the phrase “in the house”), and when asked about his faith, he acknowledges that he was born a Saracen but when he learned the gospel, he rejected his former faith, “as being a man-made creed based on fables thought up by human subtlety and invention.”         

          Though threatened with torture, Abo was resolute and as his martyrdom approached he repeatedly expressed his faith in Jesus Christ, and he repeated (from Psalm 119) “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord,” and (from Luke 23:42) “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.”    Near the text’s conclusion, John 12:26b is cited in a slightly expanded form:  “If anyone serve me, he will receive honour from my Father, which is in heaven.”  This expansion corresponds to the form which the verse has in f13.

8 – Gregory of Khandzta and the Georgian National Revival.  Gregory of Khandzta was not martyred; he lived to be 100  and died in 861.  In this narrative of his life, a few New Testament passages are used, including Matthew 5:16 and Second Thessalonians 3:10b.  Lang points out that Georgians assigned the beginning of the world to 5604 B.C., rather than the usual Greek 5508 B.C.

 9 – The Georgian Athonites.  This chapter begins with a brief review of the careers of a few Georgians who resided at Mount Athos around the year 1000, including John the father of Euthymius, and John Tornik.   This is followed by a description of the building of the Iviron monastery.  Then Euthymius takes center-stage; his prolific translation-work is described, before an account is given of Euthymius’ death due to injuries suffered as the result of riding on a mule that bolted when Euthymius had stopped to assist a beggar.

          The next part of this chapter is mainly a report of a discussion between George the Athonite and the Patriarch of Antioch (Theodosius III).  More information about the Georgians at Mount Athos can be found here.

10 – The Passion of Queen Ketevan.  Queen Ketevan was martyred in 1624.  This brief chapter describes how she was offered a choice between a place in the harem of the king of Persia, and “death with great torments.”  Ketevan chose to be faithful to Christ,  and was tortured with red-hot pincers and then strangled.

          This is a book well worth acquiring and reading, not only for some insights into the Georgian text of the New Testament, but also to gain some historical information and edification.