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 NKJV, MEV, 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 αὐτῆς, which means “her,” while the base-text of the EHV, EOB-NT, WEB, etc., reads αὐτῶν, 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 αὐτῶν.
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 αὐτῶν 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 αὐτῆς 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 αὐτῆς (though it is possible that αὐτῆς 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 αὐτῶν, and αὐτῶν 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 αὐτῆς nor αὐτῶν, but αὐτοῦ (“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, αὐτοῦ 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 καθαρισμοῦ,” 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 καθαρισμοῦ αὐτοῦ.” Hatch proposed, further, that before the time of Origen, someone realized that αὐτοῦ could not be correct (inasmuch as the law of Moses says nothing about the purification of male offspring) and changed it to αὐτῶν.
“Αὐτῆς,” 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: καθαρισμοῦ αὐτῶν – “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 αὐτῆς, 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 αὐτῆς 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.