Friday, July 29, 2022

First Corinthians 10:9 - "the Lord" or "Christ"?

             Leaving the Gospels momentarily, today we explore a textual variant in the Pauline Epistles:  in First Corinthians 10:9, did the text originally say “Nor let us tempt Christ” (Χριστόν) or “Nor let us tempt the Lord” (Κύριον) or “Nor let us tempt God” (Θεόν)?  All three readings are nomina sacra (sacred names, usually written in contracted form), and thus, with the nomina sacra in play, amount to the difference between ΧΝ, ΚΝ, and ΘΝ.

Erasmus' text of I Cor. 10:9 (1522)
            The treatment of this variant by editors, publishers and printers of the (mainly) Byzantine Text has been consistent:  Erasmus (all editions), Gerbel (1521), Stephanus (1550), Melchoir Sessa (Venice) 1538, John Fell (1675), Bengel (1734), and Scholz (1836) all have favored “Χριστόν”; Griesbach also had Χριστόν in the text.  Χριστόν is read in Hodges & Farstad’s Majority Text (1982), and in the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform (2005), and in the Solid Rock Greek New Testament. 

            English Bibles in use today with “Christ” in First Corinthians 10:9 include the KJV, NKJV, EOB (Eastern Orthodox Bible), WEB, EHV, and also the CSB, ESV, NET, NIV 2011, NLT, NCV (New Century Version), and NRSV.

I Cor. 10:9 (Nicolaus Gerbel, 1521)
            Κύριον was consistently adopted by most editors of the critical text, other than Griesbach, until about 1970:  “Lord” was the reading adopted by Lachmann (1831), Buttmann (1862), Tregelles (1869), Tischendorf (8th edition, 1872), Westcott & Hort (1881), Eberhard Nestle (1904), Alexander Souter (1920), and the Nestle-Aland compilation up to and including the 25th edition.  The first and second editions of the United Bible Society’s Greek New Testament also read Κύριον.      

I Cor. 10:9 (Fell, 1675)
            Consequently, “Lord” has appeared in First Corinthians 10:9 in several English Bibles of the past 150 years, including the Revised Version (1881), the American Standard Version (1901), the Revised Standard Version, the Living Bible, the New Life Version, the New American Standard Bible (1960 & 1995), the New International Version 1984, and the Tree of Life Version (2011).  Meanwhile, the Tyndale House GNT reads “κύριον” and the SBLGNT reads “Χριστόν.”

            Now let’s look at some text-critical data: 

Fell's footnote (1675)
             In 1982, in New Testament Textual Criticism:  Its Significance for Exegesis:  Essays in Honor of Bruce M. Metzger, a chapter by Carroll D. Osburn focused on this variant.  Osburn’s data is far more detailed than any other apparatus:  in support of Χριστόν, Osburn listed P46, D, E, F, G, K, L, Ψ 056 0142 0151 and 489 minuscules (including 1 6 18 35 69 88 131 205 209 323 330 424 440 451 489 517 547 614 618 629 630 796 910 945 999 1241 1242 1243 1245 1270 1315 1353 1424 1448 1505 1611 1646 1734 1738 1739 1827 1852 1854 1881 1891 1912 1982  1984 2125 2200 2400 2412 2492 2495), numerous Old Latin witnesses including itar, b, d, dem, e, f, g, o, x, z and the Vulgate, the Peshitta, the main text of the Harklean Syriac, the Sahidic version, and the Bohairic version.   

I Cor. 10:9 in Codex Sinaiticus     
           Κύριον, meanwhile, is supported by À B C P 0150 33 43 104 181 255vid 256 263 326 365 436 1175 2110 2127 2464 and 22 other minuscules, and the margin of the Harklean Syriac, the Armenian version and the Ethiopic version.

            Osburn’s thorough list extends to two other readings:

            Codex A, 2 81 1127 1595 and 14 other minuscules (and 2815 which Osburn did not list, but Swanson does) read Θεόν.

            Nothing appears between ἐκπειράζωμεν and καθως in 97 1729* 1985 and 2659.

             Settings aside Θεόν and the complete absence of any nomina sacra, Osburn focuses on the contest between Κύριον and Χριστόν.  Things get very interesting in the patristic evidence: 

            The earliest support for Χριστόν is Marcion (the arch-heretic from Pontus who worked for a while in Rome c. 140); Epiphanius, in the late 300s, claimed that Marcion changed the text from Κύριον to Χριστόν.  But, as Osburn argues, it is reasonable to understand Epiphanius’ claim as a presumption – i.e., that Epiphanius’ text read Κύριον and he assumed that Marcion had changed it – rather than as an observation.  Slightly later is Irenaeus (in Against Heresies, Book 4, ch. 27), and slightly later than Irenaeus are Clement of Alexandria, Origen (in a statement preserved in the margin of GA 1739), and Theotecnus (bishop of Caesarea-in-Palestine, and an associate of Origen), writing against Paul of Samosata for the Council of Antioch (268).  

            The bishops involved in the Council of Antioch in 268 also produced the Letter of Hymenaeus, of which Osburn provided a relevant extract, which implies that “neither Paul of Samosata nor his opponents were aware of a biblical text which read other than Χριστόν in v. 9.”  (Osburn mentioned in a footnote, however, that the text of the Letter of Hymenaeus printed by M.J. Routh in 1846, and by E.Schwartz in 1927, has Κύριον.) 

            Also in support of Χριστόν are Ambrosiaster, Ephraem Syrus, Pelagius, Augustine, Pseudo-Oecumenius, and Theophylact.  Chrysostom also cites I Cor. 10:9 with Χριστόν three times.

            Κύριον is supported by Epiphanius, Theodoret of Cyrrhus (in a substantial quotation in his commentary on the Pauline Epistles), Cassiodorus, John of Damascus, and Sedulius Scotus.  Chrysostom is cited as using κύριον once.  

           Now let’s analyze this evidence and reach a conclusion. 

I Cor. 10:9 in Tregelles' text.
            The case for κύριον is not lightweight:  agreements of À and B were considered practically decisive by Westcott & Hort, and their judgment held sway for over a century, though as early as 1899 Theodor Zahn, as Carroll noted, firmly opposed it.              

            Χριστόν has in its favor the support of very early and geographically diverse patristic witnesses.  The discovery of P46 with Χριστόν (written as ΧΡΝ - see BP II f.49 in the online Chester Beatty Papyrus Collection on the fourth line from the bottom) probably should have instantly elicited a change in the critical text here, inasmuch as with its discovery, Χριστόν scores high on multiple metrics:  it is the reading of the oldest manuscript; it is the reading of the most manuscripts (by far); it is the reading of the most diverse array of manuscripts; it is the reading favored by a strong combination of early patristic writers.  About the only counter-argument that favors Κύριον is the internal consideration that Paul would be unlikely to have written that the Hebrews in the wilderness tempted Christ – but as indicated in a note in the NET, Osburn built an effective cumulative argument that the case against Χριστόν driven by this internal evidence is weak.  I cannot think of any reason but haste, and perhaps over-reliance on the work of Tregelles (who had no access to P46) to elicit the Tyndale House GNT’s adoption of κύριον.  It was due to over-reliance upon À and B that κύριον was ever adopted in printed Greek New Testaments; hopefully the days of such over-reliance, repeatedly shown to be merely a disguised bias, are behind us. 

              Χριστόν merits confident inclusion in the text.                     




Daniel Buck said...

When constructing a chronology, it's important to note that although Westcott and Hort did not publish their critical Greek text until 1881, they had it pretty much completed by 1860 and had printed it for private circulation by 1870.

Timothy Joseph said...

Wow, this is where I believe you excel, your ability to dig thru primary and secondary sources and bring them together in an well reasoned article. As with Dr. Robinson, I have grown to appreciate your hard work and now believe it is necessary to hear what you have to say because of such commitment to research. Thanks for this article.
P.S. Yes, this should have always been the case😎

Demian said...

Yeah, Epiphanius seems to assume at times that a reading in the Pauline epistles that is not is his manuscript was necessarily changed by Marcion. He did it with 1 Galatians 5:19, but Jerome's Greek manuscript contained the reading allegedly changed by Marcion. Unfortunately, Tertullian didn't quote this verse in his work against Marcion, but I don't see why Marcion would be interested in creating a reading that would identify Christ with the God of the old testament. This is the last thought that would cross his mind!

Robin said...

Demian ... I appreciated your thoughts about Marcion.
Perhaps we should be calling him

"Marcion the Herald"
instead of
"Marcion the Heretic"