Ancient papyrus fragment of Jude (credit: wikipedia).
(New American Standard Bible) Jude 1:22 “And have mercy on some, who are doubting”
In our last post we began considering Jude 1:22 and exploring the textual issues of the passage. We noted that in considering Jude 1:22, we wanted to discern through the practice of textual criticism what would be the wording of the text as originally given. Such studies are not only for academic purposes – but pastoral purposes as well. Think about it: when ministering to those who are doubting, do we reprove such? urging them to correct their doubts and thus embrace more tightly the faith? Or, do we take a more gentle route in exercising patience and giving the person room to wrestle while discipling them to grow in the faith they are tempted to jettison?
To do this type of study, one must have a reliable method of doing a textual study of the underlying Greek text. To achieve our aims in this series of post, we will consult New Testament Greek Scholar David Alan Black’s method for such outlined in his volume: “New Testament Textual Criticism – A Concise Guide”. 1 Today’s post will begin working through Black’s step-by-step process of textual criticism. It is hoped that these posts not only serve the wider Christian community in regards to introducing what typically occurs in working with the text of the New Testament, but moreso in instructing pastors on ways in which we can minister to those who are doubting.
A. Biblical Reference: Jude 1:22
B. Greek text involved in variation as found in UBS 4 revised. A couple of notes are worth mentioning before we post the Greek text in question. First, the designation “UBS” stands for “United Bible Societies”. The number “4” stands for “4th edition – that is – the edition of the UBS text produced in 1993. Then, the term “revised” refers to the minor changes the editors made in the data that records the various manuscripts containing the readings of the text in question (what is called a “textual apparatus”. At the time of Black’s book, the UBS 4th revised text had only been out for a year. Since that time, the United Bible Societies has updated their edition of the Greek New Testament to what is called the “UBS 5” text.
The reader should also know that another edition of the Greek New Testament, the “Nestle Aland” text (or “NA” for short) is cited in any literature dealing with textual critical matters. As of 2012, the Nestle Aland Greek New Testament critical edition came out in its 28th edition – and thus is termed the “NA 28”. Both the NA and UBS critical editions of the Greek New Testament have essentially the same text, with their differences only being in the way they present all of the pertinent textual data in their respective textual apparatuses. Consequently, most modern English Bibles base their translations off of the underlying Greek text in the UBS and NA critical editions. The astute reader may notice in the lower margins of versions such as the “NIV” or “ESV” the note: “reading is found in the NA/U text”, which simply refers back to the two critical editions of the Greek New Testament described here.
Readers should know that when such critical editions of the Greek New Testament are produced, their distinctions lie in how they handle all of the manuscript evidence for a particular reading. To not labor the point nor go into inordinate detail, the UBS 5/ NA 28 Greek New Testaments render their texts based upon what are generally considered the oldest readings in roughly 10% of the manuscript evidence, as well as those reading spread over a wider geographical area whereever they were copied and then finally, which ever readings explain the rise of others per the Biblical author’s writing styles and such. This is a hugely simplified summary – but for our purposes it suffices for now.
Finally, to make one final note on major critical editions of the Greek New Testament, New Testament scholars Maurice Robinson and William G. Pierpont have edited and oversaw the production of a critical edition whose text is based upon the majority of manuscripts that are oftentimes referred to as the “Majority Text” or “Byzantine Text”. Robinson’s edition is called the “The New Testament in the Original Greek: Byzantine Textform 2005” (for our purposes in this post, we will abbreviated as “RP 2005 Byz”). I won’t further elaborate on Robinson’s text for sake of space. We will for sake of completeness though include Robinson’s text and thus present the underlying Greek text of Jude 1:22 as it appears in the UBS 5, NA 28 and RP Byz 2005.
i). UBS Greek text of Jude 1:22 καὶ οὓς μὲν ἐλεᾶτε διακρινομένους,
ii). NA 28 Greek text of Jude 1:22 καὶ οὓς μὲν ἐλεᾶτε διακρινομένους,
iii). RP Byz 2005 Greek text Jude 1:22 και ους μεν ελεειτε διακριωομενοι
C. Literal Rendering(s): Since we have Jude 1:22 depicted from three critical editions of the Greek New Testament, we can now offer a literal translation of each sentence.
i). UBS 5 and NA 28 of Jude 1:22 “And indeed regarding some, continually show mercy on those who are doubting”. Being that the NA 28 text is identical to the UBS 5, it would be rendered in the same manner.
ii). RP Byz 2005 of Jude 1:22 “And indeed regarding some, excercise discernment while continually showing mercy.”
D. NRSV rendering: “And have mercy on some who are wavering”. The NRSV rendering corresponds to the Greek text we see in the UBS5 and NA 28.
E. NKJV rendering: “And on some have compassion, making a distinction”. The NKJV text (like the KJV) would correspond more closely to the text we see depicted in the RP Byz 2005.
F. Deliniation of the Problem: In the last post I quoted from the master commentator Adam Clarke who has given to us a thorough explanation of all that is happening in Jude 1:22. Although this writer is far more optimistic than he in discovering what the original wording of Jude 1:22 is (afterall, this is the main goal of textual criticism), Clarke’s summary of the issues facing the Biblical interpreter of Jude 1:22 is still very adequate:2
“And of some have compassion, making a difference – The general meaning of this exhortation is supposed to be, “Ye are not to deal alike with all those who have been seduced by false teachers; ye are to make a difference between those who have been led away by weakness and imprudence, and those who, in the pride and arrogance of their hearts, and their unwillingness to submit to wholesome discipline, have separated themselves from the Church, and become its inveterate enemies.”
Clarke then notes….
“Instead of ……. ‘and of some have compassion, making a difference’, many MSS., versions, and fathers have …… ‘and some rebuke, after having judged them’; or, ‘rebuke those that differ’; or, ‘some that are wavering convince’; or whatever else the reader pleases”.
Clarke then offers what seems to be a low possibility of resolving the textual and translational issues of Jude 1:22, wherein he concludes:
“for this and the following verse are all confusion, both in the MSS. and versions; and it is extremely difficult to know what was the original text. Our own is as likely as any.”
As the reader can see, there are as many practical, pastoral implications going on in Jude 1:22 as there are the textual critical considerations. Can the student, pastor and scholar alike come to a reasonably certain conclusion on the original wording of Jude 1:22? This writer believes it can be done. Since Clarke’s days, more manuscripts and better textual critical tools have become available. In God’s providence, the ability to study the manuscript copies of the Greek New Testament has been enhanced.
For today we will close. Let the reader review the outline above and consider what we have discovered thus far. More importantly, I urge readers to prayerfully consider the pastoral/practical implications of this text. In any good textual study, one must read the wider context of the passage in question, since context can aid immensely in making textual decisions.
More next time…..
1. Black, David Alan. New Testament Textual Criticism – A Concise Guide. Baker Books. 1994.
2. Clarke, Adam. Clarke’s Commentary. Abington Press. New York. Nashville. Also available online at Biblehub.com.