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#46 - 2Pe 1:1 - Textual correction needed for KJV

by Robert Nguyen Cramer

This BibleTexts website administrator has very much enjoyed questions and insights that have been emailed to him ever since this site was launched in September of 1996. On this page I share with BibleTexts browsers a few of the questions, insights, and responses, so that we all can further learn from and with each other.
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Question/insight #46a: "I have a question regarding the Greek text of 2 Peter 1:1. The UBS/NA and TR of Stephens read: "tou theou hemon kai soteros Iesou Christou." However, the TR of Beza (1589 & 1598) read: "tou theou hemon kai soteros hemon Iesou Christou." Thus it has an extra "hemon" in its text. Do you know what Greek mss.[manuscripts] support the reading of Beza?"

Response #46a:

There doesn't seem to be any noteworthy support for Beza's reading of "hemon" [our] immediately following "soteros" [Savior] and immediately preceding "Iesou Christou" [Jesus Christ]. If there is any manuscript support for that reading, it is either unknown or so weak that it is not mentioned even in the critical apparatus of the United Bible's definitive Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition, or in Bruce Metzger's A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament.

The Elzevir brothers included the additional "hemon" in their 1624 Greek text, but their text was mostly based upon Beza's 1565 text.

The KJV translators mostly used Beza's 1589 and 1598 Greek texts of that verse, but the "hemon" in 2Pe 1:1 does not even have enough support to be included in the marginal notes of the 1881-1885 Revised Version or the 1901 American Standard Version, which were the first authorized revisions of the KJV.

In The Text of The New Testament, Second Edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968, page 105), in which some of the above facts are documented, Bruce Metzger writes: Of the Greek New Testaments (at least nine) that Theodore de Beza produced, only the 1565, 1582, 1589, and 1598 were "independent" of other Greek texts of that period. Dr. Metzger goes on to say:

It is not hard to see how Beza, in his honest attempt to provide a reliable Greek New Testament, unknowingly used unreliable texts from "the variety of... additional textual evidence" that he had.

To put all of the above in context, it should be noted that 2 Peter was written pseudonymously "around the turn of the 1st century" (New Jerome Biblical Commentary, edited by Brown, Fitzmyer, and Murphy, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1990, page 1017) or "even well into the second century" (HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition, edited by Paul J. Achtemeier and the Society of Biblical Literature, New York: HarperCollins, 1996)

In Metzger's The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987) cites a number of early Christian writers (Origin, Hippolytus, Eusebius, Amphilochius, Didymus, Chrysostom) who reported that 2 Peter's claim to authenticity was disputed. (See pages 138, 151, 203, 212, 213, 214.)

The attempt to adequately answer your question seems to have raised additional questions. In the process of inspiring us, the study of the Bible also stimulates a lot of honest thinking, but this is good preparation for thoughtful and honest interaction in our daily encounters with the world. As the writer of 1 Peter writes:

Question/insight #46b: Again, thank you for your comments. I agree that the Scriptures should challenge us to deeper thinking. I have for some time tried to find a mss. that contains the textual variant Beza used in 2 Peter 1:1, but have been unable to do so as of yet. It very well may be that the mss. Beza used have been lost. Or, that he made a conjectural emendation in order to link theos with soteros. Tomorrow I plan to visit the University of Dayton where they have a 1589 edition of Beza's text with his notations. Perhaps there will be a note explaining the additional hemon. If so, I will e-mail you this information.

I also have been trying to find how many of the cursive mss. contain the Epistle of 1 John. Do you know of a good resource regarding this? In this regard, I have been engaging an online discussion concerning the textual support (or lack thereof) for the Johannine Comma.

The Nestle-Aland (27th) notes 8 late mss. that contain the Comma in either the text or margin (221; 2318; 629; 88; 429; 636; 918). It then states "al. v. l. minores" (i.e. there are some additional mss. that contain the Comma as an alternative reading). Do you happen to know which additional mss. likewise contain the Comma? I have been trying to find an answer to this for sometime now and have been unsuccessful. If you have any information regarding these mss. it would be greatly appreciated.

Again, thank you for your help and for your online assistance. Your letters and web site have been a blessing and help to me.

Response #46b:

Your additional comment regarding Beza's possible "conjectural emendation" is a possibility that I have considered, but Beza's reputation as a careful, thorough scholar weighs against that -- regardless of the fact that he had some unreliable manuscripts that misled him.

There is another more complicated possibility that I've considered, but that I didn't mention yesterday. Though unlikely, the additional "hemon" may have been manufactured by some church authority, just as the Johannine Comma may have been manufactured by church authorities to manipulate Erasmus to insert it into his Greek text. I referred to this in the webpage at:

Dr. Metzger writes (The Text of the New Testament, Second Edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 1968, page 101):

On the next page (page 102) Dr. Metzger goes on to say:

Dr. Metzger provides a lot of additional detail on pages 847-649 in his A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Second Edition (New York: United Bible Societies, 1994). There he gives details about each of the 7 manuscripts that you mention.

The two Metzger books that I mentioned above are essential tools to thoroughly explore the Greek New Testament. For additional resources that I've found helpful, please refer to:

under the heading, "EARLY CHRISTIANITY: The canon: texts, manuscripts, and versions, including Old Testament versions."

Your additional questions about the Johannine Comma are for the most part answered in the above-mentioned Metzger books. Rudolph Bultmann's commentary on The Johannine Epistles (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress Press, Hermeneia series, 1973) has a few additional details, but most are found in Metzger's works.


Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer