Category Archives: New Testament

No Church in Acts 2:47?

Growing up with the KJV, I learned Acts 2:47 as

And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Later in life, I moved to the NIV, which reads,

And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Where did the church go? One explanation is that the evil NIV hated the church and thus remove mention of it from this text. However, that explanation would be wrong.

The answer to which translation is correct comes down to the matter of how the manuscripts of the NT were preserved and eventually came down to us.

Actually the NT manuscripts (MSS) contain some variations. The “best” reading is ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό (to thier group/number) instead of τῇ ἐκκλησία (to the church). That is, some MSS of the NT have the first reading while the majority of MSS have a variation of the latter.

The first reading (ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό) is supported by 01 02 03 04 81 1175.

However regarding the addition of “church,” the following readings are attested in the MSS:

  1. τη εκκλησια 08 014sup1 025 044 049 056 1 33 69 88 226 323 330 440 547 614 618 927 1241 1245 1270 1505 1611 1646 1828 1837 1854 2147 2344 2412 2492

  2. τη εκκλησια επι το αυτο 35 945 1739 1891

  3. εν τη εκκλησια 104 1243

  4. + εν τη εκκλησια 05

  5. της εκκλησιας επι το αυτο 2495

Metzger, in his Textual Commentary, offer the following explanation for the rise of the jumbled secondary readings:

The phrase ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό, which is common enough in classical Greek and in the Septuagint, acquired a quasi–technical meaning in the early church. This meaning, which is required in 1.15; 2.1, 47; 1Cor 11.20; 14.23, signifies the union of the Christian body, and perhaps could be rendered “in church fellowship.”91 Not perceiving this special usage of the word in ver. 47, scribes attempted to rearrange the text, either by moving the phrase to the following sentence (3.1) or by glossing it with an equivalent phrase, ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ.

This being the case, therefore, the first time Luke uses the word “church” (εκκλησια) is Acts 5:11 (followed by Acts 7:38; 8:1, 3; 9:31; 11:22, 26; 12:1, 5; 13:1; 14:23, 27; 15:3-4, 22, 41; 16:5; 18:22; 19:32, 39-40; 20:17, 28).

While I’m certain the Lord adds people to the church, I’m also certain Luke did not use the word church here–now those later scribes . . . well, that’s a different matter and another topic.

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Summary of “The Text of Acts in the Writings of Origen”

My thanks to Adam Harwood for posting a summary of my research on Origen on his site at http://www.adamharwood.com/?p=74.

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Origen and the First or Second Psalm

Most of the examples of Origen’s text-critical observations occur in the Gospels, but I have found one in Acts. In commenting on Acts 13:33, Origen notes that Acts attributes Psa 2:7 to the first psalm (ὡς γὰρ γέγραπται φήσιν ἐν πρώτῳ ψαλμῷ) as does Codex Bezae (D),[1] however, all other extant MSS of Acts refers to the second psalm (καὶ ἐν τῷ ψαλμῷ γέγραπται τῷ δευτέρῳ). After pointing out this discrepancy, Origen discusses the different numbering systems used by the Hebrew OT, in which Psalms 1 and 2 are considered separate compositions, while Acts 13:33 (apart from D) knows Psalm 1 and 2 as a single psalm (τὰ Ἑλληνικὶ μέντοι ἀντίγραφα δεύτερον εἶναι τοῦτον μηνεύει. τοῦτο δὲ οὐκ ἀγνοητέον ὅτι ἐν τῷ Ἑβραϊκῷ οὐδενὶ τῶν ψαλμῶν ἀριθμὸς παράκειται πρῶτος εἰ τύχοι ἢ δεύτερος ἢ τρίτος).[2] While this is one of the few places where Origen agrees with D alone, Origen’s comment gives evidence that at Acts 13:33 “ἐν πρώτῳ ψαλμῷ” was present in some Greek MSS in the early third century.

[1] PS.CAT – 1099/1100, D2 is a catena and as such may not necessary reflect the exact text of Origen. 05 reads τω πρωτω ψαλμω γεγραπται.

[2] The Latin is “… verum exemplaria Graeca hunc secundum esse indicant illud autem non ignorandum est in Hebraieis exemplaribus nulli psalmo numerum apponi sive primus sive secundus sive tertius sit.” On the numbering of Psa 1 and 2, see Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1–50 (WBC 19; Waco: Word Books, 1983), 18–19, who misreads the case when he writes, “The evidence from the early Christian tradition is found in Acts 13:33. The writer, Luke, gives a quotation from Ps 2:7, but introduces it as coming from the first psalm; the corrections, both in the early Greek text and in modern English versions, to read ‘the second psalm,’ are appropriate given the change in the conventional system of numbering the Psalms. Nevertheless, the oldest Greek text of Acts provides evidence for the early Christian view that the first two psalms were considered to be a single unit.” Actually, only D among extant Greek MSS, has ἐν πρώτῳ ψαλμῷ.

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Origen and the Text of Acts

It has been a while since I have posted here. Largely  because I have been busy working on my dissertation on Origen’s text of Acts. In fact, it was my work on Origen, that caused me to name this blog Stan’s Σχόλια (scholia) since Origen left many scholia, or marginal notes, or catenae, and also fragments preserved by other writers.

As I complete the dissertation, I can begin to share some of my findings, saving the ultimate findings for the dissertation itself.

To get to this point, I have collected every citation and allusion in Origen’s extant writing to the text of Acts. Though I will only use the Greek materials for the reconstruction of Origen’s text of Acts, I have collected everything–and some of it is remotely related to the text to which it is suppose to allude.

As scholars have known, not a great deal of Acts survives in Origen and this will create some challenges in being confident about the overall nature of the text or texts of Acts used by him. However, since a comprehensive collection and analysis of what is available has not been done (at least not recorded), then it is worth the work. Even the incidentals on particular texts of Acts have been enlightening.

At this stage I’m currently  analyzing Origen’s text against representative MSS of what has been traditionally called text-types: Alexandrian (primary and secondary), the ‘Western,’ namely Codex Bezae (D), and the Byzantine tradition.

MS 1739 is getting a lot of attention since previous scholars have shown that it has some affinity with Origen, especially the text of Romans in it. Some have thought that 1739 might also be close to Origen in Acts.

It has been interesting to revisit Tom Geer’s work on 1739. Tom was one of my professors at ACU. Tom showed that 1739 was a secondary Alexandrian text in Acts.

So if you are interested in this type of stuff, follow along.

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We are ALL Sons (Gal. 3:28)

This text cannot mean “separate but equal” and still end up with  “one in Christ.”  Forgive the Greek, but the balance of the text is rhetorically beautiful and the parallelism important.

οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην,

οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος,

οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ

[There is]

neither Jew nor Greek,

neither slave nor free,

neither male and female (Gal. 3:28)

The logic is as beautiful as the rhetoric. Just previously, in v. 26, the apostle states that all believers in Jesus are now “sons of God” though their trust in Jesus. Given where Paul is going with this text, that would mean that Jew, Greek, slave, free, male, and female should all consider themselves “sons.” They are now all the “sons” of God. Of course, there is a lot of reasons why Paul would uses the masculine plural collective noun for God’s people. First, the ancient people of Israel were known in Scripture as the “sons” of Israel. Secondly, Paul has already played with the notion of adoption and that word is rooted in the notion of being made a son (cf. Rom 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5). Thirdly, Paul is also working the Old Testament notion that the first born son was to received the largest portion of the inheritance. And Paul is certainly of the mind that Jesus is this “firstborn” Son of God. So when it comes to being a “son,” there is a lot to work with. And he wants all of us to be “sons.”

Now this in important: Those who have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ—irrespective of other identity-markers to be named in the v. 28. Every believer is to be counted as if they were the Son. They have identified with Jesus, the Son and as such now stand in line to receive the full inheritance of the Son. The interpretation of the text become ludicrous if we begin to qualify—really we all know, this passage really only deals with salvation and not real life (wink, wink). You know, really Greek believers are second-class citizens in the kingdom of God and slaves can’t lead free people in the church because, well, they are slaves. If Paul is not radically “re-assigning” the typical and expected place of all of these categories, then the text doesn’t really make sense.

Significantly, if you think about it, the addition of “male and female” is unnecessary to Paul’s overall argument. The Jew-Greek distinction is at the heart of Paul’s ministry to include non-Jews. The slave-free split fits Paul’s discussion of “freedom” in Galatians. So why throw in male and female? Because, I think, Paul wants to show how radical the new creation really is (see Gal. 6:15).

Paul intentionally chooses words of gender-identity. Here we don’t have the normal word for man and woman (which can also be translated respectively husband and wife in some contexts). We have here a clear echo of Gen 1:27: So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ ἐποίησεν αὐτούς in the Greek translation of the OT; cf. Gen 1:27; 5:2; 6:19–20; 7:2–3, 9, 16). Paul goes from “nor,” “nor,” to “and.” “Nor” would have worked one more time but “male and female” preserves the echo of Gen. 1:27. Thus, the level of “no difference” between Jews and Greeks, between slave and free, has also to be between “male” and “female.”

Finally, the punchline of this text is “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). The point is clear. All of us, whether Jew or Greek, Slave or Free, Male or Female—if we are in Christ—are full heirs to God’s promise.

And that is Good News!

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New Readings in the NA28: Report on Jude

Jude

5  παντα οτι [ο] κυριος απαξ ➽  απαξ παντα οτι Ιησους

This may well be one of the most significant changes of all in the transition from the NA27 to the NA28. The NA27’s reading was “you all know that the Lord once saved [his/the] people from the land of Egypt.” The NA28 reading would now be something like “you once knew all things that Jesus saved [his/the] people from the land of Egypt”

My professor Carroll D. Osburn once argued that this “new” reading of NA28 was original in  “The Text of Jude 5.” Biblica 62.1 (1981): 107-15. The MSS offer some 11 possibilities here showing that from the beginning this text caused scribes problems, involving not only word order but also the choice between various options for who did the saving: the Lord, Lord, Jesus, God, and in one MS, Lord Jesus. The reading of “Jesus” is supported by the important MSS Alexandrinus and Vaticanus (as well as 33 81 and 2344). See also the Latin Vulgate, and thus also the Douay-Rheims Bible, which preserved the reading now in the NA28.

18 Omit [οτι] and [του]

These omissions remove bracketed, thus uncertain, words from the NA27 text. The net effect is the change from “Because they were saying to you that ‘at the end of the time there will be mockers …'” to “Because they were saying to you:  ‘at the last of  times there will be mockers …'”

This now concludes the discussion of the individual new readings in the NA28. I hope that this has been helpful to those interested in this kind of thing.

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New Readings in the NA28: Report on 1, 2, and 3 John

In this continuing series on the changes introduced in the 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament, this scholia looks at the changed in the Johannine Epistles, commonly, known as 1, 2, and 3 John.

1 John

1.7 Omits δε

The omission of this word remove a conjunctive “but.” So the text goes from “But If we walk in the light …” to “If we walk …” This omission restore the sense of parallelism in verse 6-10 which all begin with “if we say,” “if we walk,” “if we say,” “if confess,” and finally “if we say” again. The presence of “but” tended to make v. 7 dependent on v. 6. The text reads more consistent to take v. 5 as the topic and then each of the following verses from v. 6 to v. 10 as a illustrative series of if … then statements. Anyway, no great loss of meaning here by the change.

3.7  τεκνια ➽  παιδια

These are two synonymous terms for “children.” John uses both. The first word is found in 1 John 2:1, 12, 28; 3:18; 4:4; 5:21; the second in 1 John 2:14, and 18 (and now in 3:7).

5.10  εν εαυτω ➽  εν αυτω

The NA27 phrase can be translated as “in himself”; the new reading removed the reflexive nation of himself to merely him. The text would now read “The one who believes in the son of God has the witness in him (instead of “in himself”)

5.18  αυτον ➽  εαυτον

Unlike the change in 5.10, this change is in the opposite direction. It changes the personal pronoun “him,” to the reflexive pronoun “himself.” The text now would read something like: “The one born of God keeps himself …”

2 John

5  καινην γραφων σοι ➽  γραφων σοι καινην

This editorial change represent a different order for the Greek words involved. Since Greek is not as dependent on word order as English, this change does virtually nothing to meaning. Whatever an original audience would have heard here in terms of emphasis will be lost in translation anyway.

12  πεπληρωμενη η ➽  η πεπληρωμενη

Another word order thing: again, no change when translated into English.

3 John

4  τη αληθεια  ➽  αληθεια

This change represent the omission of the article (“the”) before the word truth. So the translation shifts from “the truth” to “truth.” Thus, the sense of the first option would have been “the brothers testify of you in the truth,” which is probably correct in the NIV: “testified about your faithfulness to the truth.” The sense now would be more like “testified truly  [about] you.” While it is possible that John has a view of Christian doctrine as a body of teaching which he can call “the truth,” it makes more since  in the full context of the Johannine writings to view truth” as personal and referred to the way of living consistent with the way of Jesus. Furthermore, the presence of the article in Greek does not always make something definitive in the way the article works in English.

My next scholia will look at the changes made in the epistles of Jude.

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