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Textual Criticism Issues

An Accidental Scribal Addition in DRP translation of Revelation


I finished translating the Apocalypse of John in April, 2006.  And now in August 2016, as I am making my TR and RP editions, I discovered a scribal error on my part.  In Rev. 16:11, I wrote in English “they reviled the name of the God of heaven.”  But the Greek only says ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸν θεὸν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ, they reviled the God of heaven.  So, I made a scribal addition of the words “the name of.”  Even though my exemplar had the correct text.  Why did I accidentally do this?  Because two verses prior, the same word ἐβλασφήμησαν was followed by τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ, “they reviled the name of God,” and I was familiar with that phrase from just having translated that verse.  See immediately below my translation as it stood from April 2006 to August 2016.


16:9 καὶ ἐκαυματίσθησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι καῦμα μέγα, καὶ ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ ἔχοντος τὴν ἐξουσίαν ἐπὶ τὰς πληγὰς ταύτας, καὶ οὐ μετενόησαν δοῦναι αὐτῷ δόξαν.

   And the people were burned a very bad burn, and they reviled the name of God, the one having authority over these plagues; yet they did not repent to give him glory.

16:11 καὶ ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸν θεὸν τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἐκ τῶν πόνων αὐτῶν καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἑλκῶν αὐτῶν, καὶ οὐ μετενόησαν ἐκ τῶν ἔργων αὐτῶν.

   and they reviled the name of the God of heaven, because of their pains and because of their ulcers, yet they did not repent of their works.


I looked in Hoskier’s apparatus to find out if any ancient scribes made the same mistake which I did, and lo, two of them did indeed make the same addition.


The minuscule 1957 reads in v. 11, ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ, an exact duplication of the previous phrase in v. 9, even without the τοῦ οὐρανοῦ of v. 11.


The Philoxenian Syriac in v. 11 reads ἐβλασφήμησαν τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ.  My translation was an exact translation of the Philoxenian Syriac, without my knowledge or intent.


So, when you see the UBS Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament speculate that a phrase found in the BYZ text but not found in the UBS text, and they say it was added because of scribal familiarity with that phrase a couple verses prior, I can personally attest how that can and does happen.


For most of the more recent history of Greek New Testament manuscripts, the writing was in cursive, and this writing used "ligatures" to connect multiple letters in various ways, depending on which letter they were next to, and how much room there was on the line.  Even still in the 16th and 17th centuries, scholars printed their "Editions" in cursive using ligatures.  Here I will show how in 1 Corinthians 13:4, Erasmus wrote the word περπερεύεται in five different ways in each of his 5 editions!

 Erasmus 1st Edition

Erasmus 2nd Edition

Erasmus 3rd Edition

Erasmus 4th Edition

Erasmus 5th Edition

I made a handy Greek ligature guide which you can download as a PDF free right here.

News about Papyrus 115 and the Number of the Beast

Papyrus 115, a third or fourth century fragment of the Apocalypse of John has a different reading for the number of the beast than that found in most manuscripts: 616, which is also found in Codex C.  Papyrus 115 reads Η ΧΙC which means "or 616."  Perhaps it originally spelled out 616, as follows, ΕΞΑΚΟCΙΟΙ ΔΕΚΑ ΕΞ followed by Η ΧΙC.  It is also speculated that, rather than make a commitment to one reading or the other 666 or 616, it had both, separated by the word "H" which means "or."  Another possibility for the H letter, is that the scribe mistook the final N of ESTIN, for ESTI H.  Later, a corrector put a bar over the H as a correction or editing sign.


See the image below, where on the 3rd line you can clearly see the letters Η ΧΙC.  ‘or 616”






Passages in the Book of Revelation:

Rev. 1:5b Τῷ ἀγαπῶντι ἡμᾶς καὶ λύσαντι ἡμᾶς ἐκ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ αἵματι αὐτοῦ

“To him who loves us, and freed* us from our sins with his blood…”


* txt “freed” P א A C 88 181 792 922 1384* 1611 1678 2019 2026 2028txt 2050 2074 2081 2329 2344vid 2351 2436 2814 ith vg-z syrph,h eth arm Andrew; Victorinus-Pettau Primasius WH VS RC NA {A} // “washed” P 046c (046* homoioteleuton) 35 82 94 104 241 424 459 469 627 757 920 1006 1828 1841 1854 1862 1888 2028Z 2040 2053 2059 2060 2062 2065 2080 2138 it(ar),gig,t vg copbo Apringius Beatus TR HF PK RP // lacuna 051 1778 2030 2032.  The "freed" reading is reminiscent of λέλυται αὐτῆς ἡ ἁμαρτία in Isaiah 40:2, and it fits better with the preposition ἐν in this verse.  This is a Hebraistic use of the preposition ἐν – “en,” meaning "with" in the sense of what item or money you use to pay for something.  For example, "I bought the camera with the money you gave me."  Jesus' blood was the thing of value exchanged for our freedom.  This use of this preposition is a pointer in favor of the "freed" reading versus the "washed" reading, according to the Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament.  And scribes, not understanding this, thought that "washed in" made more sense than "freed in."  I give the NA27 reading an A rating of certainty.



Rev. 5:1  βιβλίον γεγραμμένον ἔσωθεν καὶ ὄπισθεν

            “a scroll, written on inside and back”


* txt ἔσωθεν καὶ ὄπισθεν “inside and back” A 69 94 1828mg 2057 2059 2060 2081 2329 2344 2814 syrh Origen Cyprian Cassiodorus TR NA27 {\} // ἔσωθεν καὶ ἔξωθεν “inside and outside” P 046 82 104 241 469 627 757 792 920 1006 1611 1678 1778 1828txt 1841 1854 1862 1888 2019 2050 2053 2065 2074 2080 (2138? illeg.) 2344 2351 itar,gig vg syrph copbo arm eth Hippolytus Origen Victorinus-Pettau Aphraates Hilary Oecumenius Primasius HF PK RP // ἔμπροσθεν καὶ τὰ ὄπισθεν “front and back” א pc copsa Origen2/4 (conformed to Septuagint Ezekiel 2:10- τὰ ἔμπροσθεν καὶ τὰ ὀπίσω) // lacuna C 051 1384 2030 2062.  In addition, there are a couple important cursives that combine the above two main readings, minuscules 35 and 2073.  The UBS textual commentary says that after codices came to be used, the terminology for scrolls seemed strange, thus the later change to the Majority Text reading.  Here is an example that shows how Codex A contains older readings in Revelation.  I give the NA27 reading a C rating of certainty, since there are so many fine manuscripts supporting the RP reading.



Rev. 13:14  καὶ πλανᾷ τοὺς κατοικοῦντας* ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς διὰ τὰ σημεῖα ἃ ἐδόθη αὐτῷ ποιῆσαι ἐνώπιον τοῦ θηρίου,

And he deceives those dwelling on the earth by means of the signs which were given him to do before the beast,


 * txt omit P47 A C P 046 94 104 241 424 792 920 922 1006 1611 1678 1778 1828 1841 1862 1888 2019 2040 2053 2059 2060 2065 2074 2080 2081 2329 2351 syrph,h TR WH VS RC NA27 {\} // add τοὺς ἐμοὺς “my own people” 051 35 82 469 627 757 2073 2138 2377 HF PK RP // lacuna 1384 2030 2050 2062.  The Majority Text editions seem to limit the beast’s deception to “my own people,” with John speaking.  Though I am sure the first reading, without the added phrase, is the correct one, the second reading is not as far out as it first may seem, when you consider Daniel 11:33-34.  Here is an example of where the usual triumvirate 82, 627, 920 are split up.  No true Majority text here.  I give the NA27 reading an A rating of certainty.



Rev 3:2b  γίνου γρηγορῶν, καὶ στήρισον τὰ λοιπὰ ἃ ἔμελλον ἀποθανεῖν*

            “Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die.”


* txt “were / are about to die” א A C P 88 104 424 459 922 1384 1678 1778 1828 1854 1862 1888 2050 2053 2059 2060 2074 2080 2329 2351 itar,gig,t vg syrph,h copsa TR NA27 {\} // “you were about to throw away” 046 35 82 94 241 469 627 757 792 920 1006 1611 1841 2040 2065 2138 (copbo) HF RP PK // lacuna 051 2030 2062.  In addition, there are a couple other variants in a few late minuscules.  The exact TR reading is not attested by the Greek manuscripts.  But basically, the TR reading is in agreement in essential meaning with the NA27 in that it says the things that remain are about to die.  The HF/RP reading means "the things that remain, which you were about to throw away."  The NA27 reading is supported by all the earliest Greek manuscripts and by all the old Latin, as well as by quite a large number of the cursives.  H. C. Hoskier points out that no early versions (translations) show awareness of the "throw away" reading.  I give the NA27 reading an A rating of certainty.


1 John 5:7-8, the “Johannine Comma”  Download a PDF telling the story of how this got added into the Textus Receptus and the King James Version.  Right click the link, and choose “save as” or “save link as.”


Recently, a Jeffrey Khoo in Singapore has been claiming that Papyrus 64, one of our oldest Greek manuscripts, supports the Textus Receptus against the NA27 / UBS text in Matthew 26:22.  He is not correct.  Here is a PDF showing the exact readings of the manuscripts.


Here is a PDF document showing the evidence for Bethany vs. Bethabara in John 1:28.  It is a 430 KB document.

Abbreviation keys: "TR" = the Textus Receptus, Stephens 1550 Ed.; "WH" = Westcott & Hort GNT, 1881; "VS" = Hermann von Soden GNT, 1913; "RC" = R. H. Charles Greek edition of Revelation, 1920; "HF" = Hodges/Farstad Majority Text edition, 1985; "PK" = Wilbur N. Pickering's edition of the Apocalypse; "RP" = Robinson-Pierpont GNT, 2005 edition; "NA" = Nestle-Aland 27th Edition GNT, 2001; "MS" = "manuscript"; "MSS" = "manuscripts; "al" = alii- "and others"; "vg" = the vulgate; "syr" = Syriac translations; "cop" = Coptic translations; "it" = italic, or Old Latin translations, the superscript letters following designating which edition and date thereof.



A word about the "majority text." Eusebius of Caesarea, who died in the year 339, tells us in "Ad Marinum" that the "longer ending of Mark," now numbered chapter 16, verses 9-20, was absent "in almost all the copies" of the gospel of Mark, which he also called the "accurate" copies. Thus we can say, that though a majority of late copies now contain these verses, the "majority text" used to omit them. This shows the value of Codices Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus. They show us what the Greek text was like in the 4th century, which is more important than what it developed into later. Thus, what value is there in a "majority text" derived from counting up only the recent and late copies, when in the 3rd and 4th centuries, the majority of manuscripts read so differently than the present majority?


The conclusion is, most Textual Criticism scholars agree, we must "weigh" each manuscript and witness, not "count" them. Thus, the testimony of Codex Vaticanus is more important than the testimony of 4,000 cursives from the much later centuries.


This is what I have maintained for some time; that scribes were far more afraid to OMIT anything, however suspect it was, than to ADD something to the text.


Which is another prop for the tenet, that the shorter reading is generally to be preferred; it has that going for it, that scribes were more afraid to remove anything than to add something.

I was recently referred to John William Burgon, and his book, "The last twelve verses of the Gospel according to S. Mark vindicated against recent critical objectors established., pp. 41-51. In it Burgon attempts to lessen the impact of the testimony of Eusebius and Jerome about the the longer ending of Mark not being found in the accurate copies, and being absent in almost all the copies of Mark.

Burgon spends some time questioning the authenticity of the document provided by Cardinal Mai entitled "Quaestiones ad Marinum," and its quotations of Eusebius. Why? Because it appears to be a CONDENSED version of Eusebius, Burgon says. But then, on p. 44, Burgon says, "Let it, however, be candidly admitted that there seems to be no reason for supposing that whenever the lost work of Eusebius comes to light, (and it has been seen within about 300 years,) it will exhibit anything essentially different from what is contained in the famous passage which has given rise to so much debate,..."

In the succeeding pages, Burgon's main point seems to be that Eusebius is playing Devil's advocate, that "some may say that..." Well, Eusebius does not contradict or refute or dismiss those statements from such advocate.

Burgon's purpose was to show that Eusebius did not question the authenticity of the passage. In fact, Burgon himself quotes Eusebius, on p. 45, where Eusebius says about the last 12 verses of Mark, Καὶ δὴ τοῦδε τοῦ μέρους συγχωρουμένου εἶναι ἀληθοῦς, προσήκει τὸν νοῦν διερμηνεύειν τοῦ ἀναγνώσματος - "Well then, allowing this portion to be really genuine, our business is to interpret the sense of the passage." (KAI DH TOUDE MEROUS SUGCWROUMENOU EINAI ALHQOUS, PROSHKEI TON NOUN DIEREMHNEUEIN TOU ANAGNWSMATOS)

Thus, Burgon himself shows us that Eusebius did in fact question the authenticity of the longer ending of Mark. Eusebius only allows for the sake of argument that it is "really genuine." That does not sound to me like Eusebius believed it to be genuine.

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