Monday, May 20, 2024

First John 4:3 - What Did John Write?

 Leaving the Gospels briefly, let's focus today on an interesting textual variant in First John 4:3. The Byzantine text reads  ησουν χριστον ἐν σαρκἱ ἐληλυθοτα, and the Nestle-Aland/UBS compilation reads τον  ησουν.  In favor of the non-Byzantine we have A B 322 323 945 1241 (which can be viewed here) and 22989 and, regarding versions, the Vulgate, the Coptic (Bohairic), and where patristic evidence is concerned, Clement Origen Socrates' MSS (as explained in the UBS apparatus), Cyril (4 out of 5 citations), Tertullian (1 out of 2 citations), Lucifer (the Sardician bishop, not the devil), Tyconius (2 out of 3), Ambrose, Augustine, and Fulgentius (1 out of 2).

Neither the Alexandrian text nor the Byzantine text is not uniform at this point. Sinaiticus reads  ν κν ἐν σαρκἱ ἐληλυθοτα (see the picture) and 1175 reads Ἰησουν κὺριον ἐν σαρκἱ ἐληλυθοτα.  1243 and 1292 and 1844 share another variant (but let's stick to the main readings in the interest of brevity).

As the late professor Bruce Manning Metzger observed, the shorter reading is supported by "good representatives of both Alexandrian and Western types of text."  I agree with Metzger's assessment that later copyists expanded the verse by borrowing language from the previous verse.  This is a benign expansion in the Byzantine text - but an expansion nonetheless.


Dr P. James said...

Thank you for this discussion. It looks like 01 has IN KN, not IN XN.

Daniel Buck said...

Yes, he reversed the readings of the two mss in quoting them. 1175 has IN XN.