New Readings in the NA28: Report on 2 Peter

This continues my series of scholia on the changes introduced in the text of the Greek New Testament from the Nestle-Aland 27th edition to the recently published 28th edition. In this scholia, we look at the changes introduced in 2 Peter.

2 Peter

2.6 ασεβε[σ]ιν ➽ ασεβειν

Again brackets in the NA27 indicate uncertainty regarding the presence and placement of the item within the brackets. Here the presence of the sigma [σ] makes this word a noun meaning the “ungodly.” Without the letter, the word becomes the Greek infinitive: “to act ungodly.

This change reverses the explanation of Bruce Metzger in his textual commentary on this passage: “From the point of view of transcriptional probability, after μελλοντων [those about to do or act] copyists would be more likely to change the noun to the infinitive than the reverse. From the point of view of intrinsic probability, the noun gives better sense (“an example [or warning] to ungodly persons of things in store for them”) than the verb (“an example [or warning] to those about to do wrong [act impiously]“). In order to represent the balance of probabilities, it was decided to enclose the sigma within square brackets.”

Neither reading is far off from the other. However, in favor of the change to the infinitive, the reading now sounds as if it is referring not to the ungodly in general, but the to the ungodly with whom Peter’s community is dealing. However, the other reading align more readily with the parallel text in Jude 7 which I believe the author of 2 Peter had in hand or memory.

2.11 παρα κυριου ➽ παρα κυριω

The NRSV rendered this text: “Bold and willful, they are not afraid to slander the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not bring against them a slanderous judgment from the Lord” (2 Peter 2:10–11). The pertinent phrase is italicized. The NIV went with the alternative reading (and translation): “in the presence of the Lord,” which the NA28 now supports. Metzger in his textual commentary on this passage that some scribes may have sought to avoid the notion that “blasphemy” or “slanderous judgements” would come from the Lord.

2.15 καταλειποντες ➽ καταλιποντες

This change represents a tense change. From present to the Greek aorist tense (which does not have a real English counterpart, but might be thought of as just the verb itself without time).

An English translation might help show the difference: From “In leaving the right path, they have wandered…” to “They have left the right path and wandered …” The meaning has not been greatly affected here.

2.18 ολιγως ➽ οντως

The editors of the UBS4 Greek New Testament text (identical with the NA27’s text) was certain of the reading now being replaced by the NA28. The editorial committee of that UBS4 text gave its certainty level of “A” or very certain.

For comparative purposes, the NRSV translates this portion of the verse: “… they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error” (2 Peter 2:18). The new reading would translate: “… who are really escaping …” Again, not a big change in overall meaning, but I believe Metzger is correct in noting the tension that now exist: “οντως [really] seems to involve a self–contradiction after δελεαζουσιν [they deceive].” Nonetheless, it is not hard to comprehend why the editors of the NA28 would favor this as the harder reading among the MSS.

2.20 Omit [ημων]

This change drops the possessive pronoun [our] before “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

3.6 δι ων ➽ δι ον

Here the editors of NA28 oddly went with the easier reading, though previously thought to be supported by only one MS (69; a 15th century member of family 13). The apparatus of NA28 now adds P along with 1175 and the Latin t and MSS of the Vulgate. This change is inexplicable based on the evidence of the MSS themselves. Neither of these reading make for comfortable Greek and so scholars have offered conjectures on the correct reading: δι ου (Windisch) and δη ων (Wohlenberg).

In final analysis, English translations will still look much like the old ASV of 1901: “by which means [referring back to the “word” of the previous clause] the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.”

3.10 ευρεθησεται ➽ ουχ ευρεθησεται

In text critical terms, this is one of the most challenging text to reconstruct from the available MSS evidence. Again using the NRSV, the text reads “and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed (or “found”).” The options here among the MSS also includes: [it/they] will be burned up, found dissolved, and hidden/darkened. In light of this, scholars have offered several emendations, none of which have been widely accepted. (See Metzger’s textual commentary for an explanation of all these options).

However, not one Greek MSS supports the reading of the new NA28: will not be disclosed/found. This reading is supported by one of the ancient versions of the NT, the Sahidic dialect of Coptic, a Hellenized Egyptian language.

Without substantive textual support for their reading, the NA28 editors have chosen to go with what seems to make the most sense of the passage without resorting to emendation.

3.16 επιστολαις ➽ ταις επιστολαις

This change add the article before the word “epistles,” thus, all the epistles. Nothing to see here folk, keep moving.

3.16 στρεβλουσιν ➽ στρεβλωσουσιν

This word belongs to the larger phrase: “… which the unschooled and unstable twist—as [they do] the other writings—to their own destruction.” The change would make the “twisting” less certain: “they might/will twist.” J. K. Elliott’s question is apropos: “Is our author aware of the reality of Paul’s letter being misinterpreted, or merely anticipating such a possibility?” (See J. K. Elliott, New Testament Textual Criticism:The Application of Thoroughgoing Principles: Essays on Manuscripts and Textual Variation (Supplements to Novum Testamentum [Leiden: Brill, 2010], 527. While I believe the NA27 reading makes good sense, the NA28 reading is supported by 𝖕72 (3rd/4th cent.) which shows it was an early option in the transmission of the Greek New Testament.

3.18 Omit [αμην]

The scribal addition of a final “amen” became customary following the doxologies and prayers in the NT documents. Partly, no doubt, this was encouraged by the recitation of these texts in church where the natural conclusion in that context would be to add a final “amen.” This addition while natural to liturgy would have been odd in the original epistle. The NA28 editors are correct in omitting it.



Filed under Bible Translation, New Testament, Textual Criticism

6 responses to “New Readings in the NA28: Report on 2 Peter

  1. (First, on the side: shouldn’t the word, when singular, be scholion?)

    You stated, regarding the reading in NA28 at II Pet. 3:10: “Without substantive textual support for their reading, the NA28 editors have chosen to go with what seems to make the most sense of the passage without resorting to emendation.” But this *is* a conjectural emendation. The editors have posited a Greek readings which has no Greek support. That’s conjectural emendation.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

    • snhelton


      The singular of scholia is either scholion or scholium; I have chosen to stay with the plural in all cases since it is the name of this blog. But you are technically correct.

      Regarding 2 Pet 3.10, see the paragraph before the one you cite and you will find that the reading that NA28 chose is evidenced in the Sahidic Coptic. Thus, there is no Greek support, but there is versional support. So this is not a case of conjectural emendation ex nihilo.

      Of course, in my scholium 🙂 , I have not mentioned all the other possible readings of which I’m sure you are aware.


  2. Julie

    Thanks for your helpful overview of the 34 changes.
    For 2 Pet. 3.16, how are you analyzing the change in form…as Future or? It’s not entirely clear from “might/will twist”. Thanks!

    • snhelton

      Julie, the change is from present to future. As you may know the subjunctive mood and the future tense share in that they point to action that has not happen yet. However, in the case of this text, the interpreter still has to decide whether the text means that the unlearned and unstable will (prediction) or might (potential). . . . Note that if one chooses the future, it creates an awkward connection with the second accusative (the rest of the writings). So the text now reads “the hard to understand things which the unlearned and unstable will twist as (they will with) the other scriptures to their own destruction.” “As the other scriptures” seems to beg a past tense of some kind.

  3. Hi Stan!
    In 2 Peter 3:6, the new greek text does not refer to the WORD ? (you said to WATER)
    Alencar Kühn

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