# Textual Criticism - Lesson 31

## Some Famous Textual Problems: 1 Tim 3:16 and John 1:18

Do these two passages call Jesus “God”? Thankfully, the Bible affirms the divinity of Christ many other ways and in many other passages than these two.

Textual Criticism
Lesson 31
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###### Some Famous Textual Problems: 1 Tim 3:16 and John 1:18

I. 1 TIMOTHY 3:16

A. Internal Evidence

1. Transcriptional Probability

2. Intrinsic Probability

B. External Evidence

1. Byzantine MSS: ‘God’

2. Best Alexandrian MSS: “who”

3. Western MSS: “which” (Old Latin: quod)

C. Conclusion: “he” is clearly authentic

II. JOHN 1:18

A. Variants

B. Internal Evidence

4. Transcriptional Probability

5. Intrinsic Probability

6. Internal grade: B for ‘God’

C. External Evidence

1. Alexandrian MSS: ‘God’

2. Western MSS:

3. Byzantine MSS: ‘Son’

4. Geographical Distribution

5. External Grade: B+ for “God”

D. Conclusion

1. “The unique one, himself God’ is the authentic text

2. Strong affirmation of Christ’s deity

III. CHRIST’S DIVINITY

A. Do modern translations deny the deity of Christ?

B. Both in text and translation KJV affirms Christ’s divinity less than most modern translations.

1. Titus 2.13: “great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ”

2. 2 Peter 1.1: “of God and our Savior, Jesus Christ”

Lessons
Resources
Transcript
• Since the original autographs of the Bible no longer exist, the primary goal of Biblical Textual Criticism is to determine the exact wording of the original inspired text dispatched from the author with as much accuracy as possible. As a secondary goal, we desire to trace changes to the text and get a window into ancient Christianity.

• Contrary to popular textual critics, the wrong way to record textual variants is to count each unique variant and multiply by the number of existing manuscripts, rendering millions of variants. On the contrary, the correct method is to count the same variant that occurs across all manuscripts as one variant, rendering not millions but hundreds of thousands of predominantly minor variants.

• Compared to other ancient literature, the field of Biblical textual criticism possesses “an embarrassment of riches.” New Testament TC absolutely dwarfs the resources of other ancient literature, not only in number of manuscripts and the recent time in which they were produced, but also confirming quotations by extra-biblical writings.

• The vast majority of NT Variants are minor, easily explained scribal errors that don’t affect the meaning of the text. Among 400,000 textual variants of the NT, over 99% make no difference to the meaning, and less than 1% are both meaningful and viable.

• Recent attempts to change the goals of NTTC such that critics no longer seek to obtain the original autographs in favor of understanding a writer’s historical contexts undermine the original goal of NTTC. However, faithful textual critics must not subscribe to the notion of a “multivalence” of the original text, but instead pursue the primary goal: to get as close as possible to the original autographs.

• The vast majority of all copies of the New Testament were probably recorded on scrolls, but copied in codex format. This may lend to the theory that Christians used cutting-edge, easier-to-use media technologies to further the word-based faith.

• Various materials were used in creating NT manuscripts. Wallace discusses papyrus, parchments, and paper, each with advantages and disadvantages for transmitting the text faithfully.

• There are three fundamental issues that significantly affect the transmission of the NT Text: early copies and causes of corruption, the role of canon in shaping the text, and the emergence of localized text forms.

• Because of the radical nature of Christianity, it took some time for OT-based Jews to accept the NT as canonical. But over time, coinciding with the progressive development of a certain “canon-consciousness,” scribes were compelled to modify texts in various ways, not for malicious reasons, but in efforts to clarify, preserve, and revere the sacred scriptures.

• Although questioned by some critics, most TCs acknowledge four major localized forms of the NT text: Alexandrian, Western, Byzantine, and (questionably) Caesarian. These “cross-pollinated” text families have arisen from diverse historical, cultural and socio-political factors, but all serve to strengthen, and not weaken the integrity of the NT text.

• While it is undeniable that NT scribes made mistakes of various types in copying the inspired text, understanding the often simple reason for these mistakes renders much reward in understanding the sacred text. The fundamental principle of textual criticism is this: select the reading that best explains the rise of the other readings.

• Contrary to popular belief, intentional scribal changes were not malicious in nature, but rather displayed pious intentions and a high view of scripture. Scribal corruptions for the most part, did not reflect a desire to obfuscate, but to clarify the scripture.

• This lecture introduces papyri, critically important as the earliest witnesses of New Testament text. Papyri are some of the most important documents of NT MSS.

• Since papyri are the earliest records of NT text (containing 50% of NT) they are critical in revealing the original text shape of the NT text. Even Codex Sinaticus and Vaticanus, the two most important NT MSS in the world, are confirmed by Papyri.

• This lecture describes the most important new Testament manuscripts: the Majuscules, formerly known as uncials. These documents contain the full text of the NT written many times over, on parchment, written in all caps.

• This lecture continues the discussion about the most important New Testament manuscripts: the Majuscules, formerly known as uncials. This lecture describes Codex Alexandrinus - A, Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus - C, Codex Sinaiticus (Aleph), and Codex Washingtonianus - W - 1906.

• Since the field of TC is so small, obtaining resources are very expensive. However the internet is still a great place to conduct free TC research. In this lecture, major internet resources for studying NT manuscripts are compared and contrasted.

• Founded 2002 by Daniel Wallace, the mission of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM) is to be a premiere resource in the great and noble task of determining the wording of the autographa of the New Testament. This is facilitated through high-resolution digital photography of extant Greek New Testament manuscripts so that such images can be preserved, duplicated without deterioration, and accessed by scholars doing textual research.

• The KJV has been rightfully called “the single greatest monument to the English language,” but this is more from a literary rather than a translation standpoint. This is because the Greek MSS behind the KJV text is far inferior to that of modern translations in terms of textual basis, late MSS dates, and a less than perfect process of creation.

• The arguments used to position the Textus Receptus as the sole textual basis for the true word of God range from questionable to downright irrational. Proponents of this position rely on view of the so-called “doctrine of preservation,” which illegitimately uses certain Bible texts to argue its dubious claims.

• This lecture describes the major problems of TR-only people, who subscribe to an unbiblical Doctrine of Preservation, which as defined, effectively emerges as a Marcionite view of the Bible. Wallace claims that while there is no biblical, exegetical, or empirical basis to argue for the doctrine of preservation, God has overwhelmingly preserved Scripture in a way that is not true of any other ancient literature.

• In this lecture, Daniel Wallace describes the discovery of Sinaiaticus, and its importance to the field of textual criticism. He recounts fascinating details about his visits to St. Catherine’s, the oldest Christian monastery, at the base of Mount Sinai, Egypt.

• This lecture summarizes the life of Constantine von Tischendorf [1815-1874], and his very important discovery of Codex Sinaiticus.

• This lecture describes highlights of the history of NT TC since the TR. Describing the formation of the textus receptus, Wallace also characterizes major players in the process of arriving at the modern text.

• This lecture describes Westcott and Hort, and how they dethroned the Textus Receptus by proving that the Textus Receptus was late, inferior, and secondary.

• This lecture is 1 of 3 lectures on reasoned eclecticism. Eclecticism is the process of compiling a text from multiple sources, while reasoned eclecticism consists of rectifying the differences and evaluating variants based on both their attestation and intrinsic merit.

• This lecture is 2 of 3 lectures on reasoned eclecticism.

• This lecture illustrates the principles of reasoned eclecticism.

• Was Jesus "moved with compassion" or "indignant" when he saw that his disciples could not heal the man with leprosy?

• Why was the man waiting for so many years at the pool of Bethesda? Was there really an angel stirring up the waters and healing the first one in?

• Do these two passages call Jesus “God”? Thankfully, the Bible affirms the divinity of Christ many other ways and in many other passages than these two.

• This lecture presents some very technical arguments for why Daniel Wallace believes that the phrase “ουδεουιός” (nor the Son) is not an authentic part of Matthew 24:36.

• This lesson teaches you to appreciate the rigorous historical research required in biblical studies and the importance of respecting dual authorship. It sharpens your understanding of external and internal textual evidence and their implications for a passage's authenticity.
• The text of Mark 16:9-20 is most likely not part of the original inspired text of scripture, and v 8 is Mark's intended ending.

• This lecture evaluates popular translations of the Bible in terms of their textual basis. The bottom line is that while all translations are interpretations, The Spirit of God has ensured that the truth of the scriptures can be found in any one of them, and reading widely among different versions is good to promote understanding about different concerns of TC.

• As time progresses in the field of Textual Criticism, we continue to get razor-thin closer to the original manuscripts. The good news is that with all the known variants, no essential doctrine of the Christian faith is jeopardized by any viable variant, so we can have great confidence in the text of our Bibles to provide us all we need for life and godliness.

Dr. Daniel Wallace is one of the world's leading textual critics. His ministry, the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (CSNTM.org) is currently the most prolific organization for discovering, photographing, and cataloging ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. In this class, he discusses the issues of textual variants, how ancient manuscripts were made, the types of errors that we can see in the manuscripts, the issue of the Textus Receptus and its role in the King James translation of the Bible, the historic work of Westcott and Hort, and ends with discussions of the most famous textual problems.

Dr. Wallace gives a three hour summary of this class in our Academy program. The first of the lectures is here.

Please visit Dr. Wallace's ministry, Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts and support them financially.

Thank you to our friends at Credo House for sharing this class with us. You can purchase their workbook or the DVDs for the class from them.

## A. 1st Timothy 3:16

This is our third session on famous textual problems and we are going to look at two passages together. First, 1st Timothy 3:16 and then John 1:18; in the KJV of 1st Timothy 3:16 there is an affirmation of Jesus as God, then in John 1:18 there isn’t one in the KJV, but there is one in most modern translations. We are going to do a comparison of this, especially in light of the frequent comment that the KJV advocates say for the modern translations that it denies the deity of Christ or it dilutes it and chips away at these versions. When the reality is, we are simply trying to base what we see on the evidence. 1st Timothy 3:16 according to the KJV, ‘and without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.’ Modern translations have ‘he was revealed in the flesh.’ Manifest and revealed is the same thing. ‘He was vindicated by the Spirit,’ which is quite different and then, ‘seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.’ There are fundamentally two differences here. Not only is there a difference between God and he but it is also how I formatted them. The KJV is written as prose while modern translations have this verse as poetry. This is actually a significant issue in how we deal with the textual problem.

### 1. The Internal Evidence and Transcriptional Probability

Is it possible that there is an unintentional change? In the Majuscule text, the word for ‘who’ is the word ‘hos’ in the Greek but in the majuscule text it looks like an ‘oc’. The word for God in Greek is theos, but in the earlier manuscripts, it was written as a sacred name and it would have been written differently. You can change a hos to a theos in two strokes. So, I can change ‘who’ and say that Jesus is God if I put a bar over it and also in the middle. So, it is possible that we have an unintentional change, but in what direction? Both of these are equally possible as we are talking about this as being unintentional, but what about an intentional change? Hos to theos; there are grammatical reasons why a scribe would change this. The fundamental reason is that, they don’t recognize this as poetry; they say who is the one, but they are starting out with relative pronoun. So, how does it fit in here? Why don’t you say he or God, it is literally who, not he was manifested in the flesh but it was who was manifested in the flesh. You don’t normally start sentences with a relative pronoun in Greek. So there are grammatical reasons to change it to theos. Dean Burgan, the Oxford graduate who was cantankerous and really argued against Westcott and Hort’s text. He wrote an entire article on 1st Timothy 3:16 and how these Alexandrian manuscripts butchered the text and had no grammatical sense whatsoever to them by having hos; it didn’t fit at all in the passage. The problem with what he was saying is two-fold: first, the Alexandrian manuscripts were produced in a part of the world where they appreciated literature more than anywhere else in the ancient Mediterranean world. If they are going to butcher the text, it isn’t because these scribes are doing it on their own but it is because that is what they see in the manuscript they are copying. It has a strong antecedent probability of having been there.

But there was a doctrinal reason why it would have been changed; as the early church began to recognize the divinity of Jesus, they could change the text in some places where it would be very easy to do. This was the easiest one to change by changing who into God by adding two stokes. So, the possibility of intentional changes is fairly strong. Intrinsically, there is not much in terms of the context; you could go in either direction, but in terms of style, this could go either way. Paul only rarely called Jesus God; he does it in Titus 2:13 and we will talk about that at the end of this lecture, but in terms of style and context, we have got a matter of poetry here. Ancient Greek poetry often starts with a relative pronoun where you normally put a regular pronoun. It would be the difference between hos and thotos. It is the difference between who and he. Everybody translates this as he was manifest or he was revealed in the flesh; but the Greek literally says ‘who was manifest in the flesh. We don’t use sentences like that in modern English, nor do they do that in Greek, unless it is poetry for the most part. It is interesting here, as you go through the New Testament, you can find a number of places where the beginning verse starts out with this relative pronoun that is in Greek. Philippians 2:6 is the beginning of a hymn; it goes from 2:6 through 11 and is known as the common Christi, the hymn to Christ. It starts out with a relative pronoun hos or who but we don’t translate it that way. Romans 4:25 is one of the most notoriously difficult verses to interpret because of the prepositions are used there. The problem is reading it as prose, but if it is poetry, we can understand it better. There is a double use of what is called the di-ah preposition where one of them is used in sense other that how it is normally used. Why? It is because Paul is trying to keep the meter going. What I mean by that; Greek poetry wasn’t done by rhyming but by metric considerations.

One of the fascinating things, where we have detected poetry in the New Testament, is precisely where we have some of the more difficult exegetical problems. The reason is because metric considerations sometimes trump clarity of argument. One of the things scholars have done a poor job on is distinguishing hymns from creeds. A creed is meant to be a doctrinal statement that is very precise. A hymn is meant to be the language of worship; the language of your heart. A creed is the language of mind. When we don’t make that distinction, then we will have some problems. This is the same in the modern world. When Charles Wesley wrote, he emptied himself of all but love; talking about the Common Christi. Is that theologically accurate? If that were a creed, we would have some serious problems with what Westley is doing. The Christology of Wesley was fine; he didn’t mean that Jesus changed in his divine attributes. He was just trying to make it rhyme in the language of worship.

Dean Burgan called the Alexandrian readings an atrocious piece of grammar. He didn’t understand that this was poetry which made things different. So, frequently in the New Testament and also Proverbs, you have a line of poetry that begins with a relative pronoun where we would use the personal pronoun in its place. Colossians 1:15 is another great hymn that starts off that way and Hebrews 1:3 as well. I would give the internal grade for the hos or the he as an A minus. I think that it is fairly compelling.

### 2. External Evidence

So, externally, we have Byzantine manuscripts that have God which is predictable. The best Alexandrian manuscripts have ‘who’ or we translate ‘he’ with some being corrected by a later hand. Aleph A and C, all are corrected by a later hand which shows how easy this was to change the text. Codex A which was given to King Charles in 1627 by Cereal Lurker the patriarch of Constantinople; Codex A was difficult to read at this verse that at one point; in fact today, it has been rubbed so many times right at this letter by scholars who have looked at it over the centuries; over the last four hundred years, we can’t tell what it originally said. But in the 17th century, Vetchstine looked at it and said that the original hand of Codex A had hos, not theos. So, we have some extremely important manuscripts; codex B doesn’t read in the Pastoral Epistles. So we have some important manuscripts that have ‘who’ here and the Western manuscripts are fascinating. The Western manuscripts in the Latin have ‘which’. Does this come from ‘who’ or from ‘God’? So, what the Western manuscripts were able to do, was change this to the neuter relative pronoun coming from the masculine. It shows that this is the reading of the Western Text in the early 2nd century. Once you get the text translated into the foreign languages, they often don’t go back and look at the Greek again. They have their own independent history. So, if I have all those old Latin manuscripts agreeing with each, I can say that the archetype of the Western text deep in the 2nd century must have had a ‘who’ or ‘which’ and that is exactly what we get in the Greek manuscripts of the Western text. We get ‘hau’ which is a relative pronoun, a neuter one from hos which doesn’t come from theos. What I am saying, all of this evidence combined, show externally that ‘he’ was the originally wording as opposed to ‘God’.

It is clearly authentic and confirmed by the external and internal evidence; the use of God is an early orthodox corruption. This is one place where I think this scribe has changed the text; how early? Well, maybe not quite that early. ‘He’ does not deny Christ’s deity. God affirms Christ’s deity, but the use of ‘he’ doesn’t deny it. For King James only people to say that this takes away the deity of Christ in the Bible! Are you kidding me? If you stripped out every explicit reference of Jesus as God, you couldn’t get rid of his deity. The Spirit of God has so superintended over the writing of Scripture and the transmission of it, that I have been able to show JW’s in the New World translation that Jesus is God. The whole of the New Testament smells of his divinity; this is incredible and awesome, even if it isn’t sometimes explicitly stated. The major text for the King James advocates is 1st Timothy 3:16. This is one of the most important texts and yet they claim that modern translations deny Christ’s divinity which isn’t really the case.

## B. John 1:18

We are going to compare that to this other passage of John 1:18. In many modern translations, no one has ever seen God; the unique one, himself God is in the closest fellowship with the Father has made God known. Or in the RSV which is similar to the King James Version, no one has ever seen God, the only Son who is in the Bosom of the Father, has made him known. The RSV has been condemned as a liberal translation and yet it follows the King James Variant. The textual problem μονογενὴς θεός (monogenēs theos, “the only God”) versus ὁ μονογενὴς υἱός (ho monogenēs huios, “the only son”) is a notoriously difficult one. So, it is the unique one, himself God verses the one and only Son. So we have an adjective but like all adjectives, this adjective can function like a noun. It is like when Jesus says, blessed are the poor; poor is an adjective. He means the poor people. So, here an adjective is functioning substantially and that is going to become a major issue as we look at this textual problem. So, monogenēs huios is translated as the unique Son or the one and only son, but monogenēs theos is translated as the unique one, himself God. Basically, I am taking it with that one as a substance of itself, the unique one, God, so those two words are in apposition rather than monogenēs modifying it.

The translations that have God are the NET Bible, the NIV, the TNIV, the ESV, and the NISV and the NASB. Those that have Son are the KJV, the Revised Version of 1881. That was the one that Westcott and Hort had a major effect on. There is the ASV of 1901 and the RSV of 1952 and HCSB for Southern

Baptists today and the Revised English Bible which was done by Anglicans in 1989. It is an interesting split; it isn’t the King James against the world as a lot of modern translations have Son here as well.

### 1. The Internal Evidence and Transcriptional Probability

Is it possible that there is an unintentional error? Well, it’s possible but it really depends on Nomnia Sacra having either theos or huios. This is something while I was in the seminary master’s program I thought a scribe could have easily made a mistake as there is only a single letter difference. Remember that Nomnia Sacra are contractions or abbreviations of sacred names. The first word there would have been God while the second one would have been Son. It is a single letter difference which doesn’t look at all alike, but I thought it was a possibility. The problem here is that the earliest Nomnia Sacra we know of were God, Christ, Lord, and Jesus, but not the word Son. What does that tell us; it is much more difficult to make an unintentional error. Theos would have been abbreviated but huios would have been written out fully. And so, some scribe comes along and says that it will be much more of an intentional change, not an unintentional one. So if Theos is clearly a 2nd century reading, then accidental error is ruled out.

Thinking in terms of intentional errors; nowhere else does John say, the only one, and followed by God. Never does he use monogenēs followed by the word, God, directly. The three times he says the one and only Son is John 3:16 and John 3:18 of which John 3:16 was very popular in the ancient world also. The third is in John 4:9. Do you think scribes wouldn’t know about those texts? Even though it happens infrequently, we all know about the only begotten Son of God. We know that from John 3:16 from the King James Bible. That is another issue; how do you translate monogenēs, is it only begotten or unique one? That is an issue of translation, not of text. So John 3:16 would have been important in the scribe’s mind. A lot of these scribes were deacons and in the ancient church, frequently to become a deacon, you had to have memorized the Gospel of John. In reciting the whole Gospel showed that you were pious about your faith. Today, that would make our church leadership shrink fairly significantly! So, the text isn’t changed in John 3:16 in the manuscripts or John 3:18 or 1st John 4:9. If the original wording in John 1:18 was monogenēs huios, why was it changed here, but not in John 3:16, and not in John 3:18 and 1st John 4:9. It doesn’t make any sense. But, if the original wording was monogenēs theos, the unique one, himself God, here but in the other places, it is the unique Son, it makes perfectly good sense why scribes would change God to Son here.