Part Three – A Textual Critical Study of Jude 1:22 – beginning to work with a textual apparatus

2015-12-23 21.40.39 Photo of Jude 1:22 as it appears in Nestle-Aland 28th edition

Jude 1:22 “And have mercy on some, who are doubting;” (NASB)

Introduction and Review

In our last post we began a preliminary study of the underlying Greek text of Jude 1:22. The way in which we are undertaking this study is by following the outline given in Dr. David Alan Black’s manual: “New Testament Textual Criticism – A Concise Introduction”.(1) The point of this current series of posts is two-fold:

a). To answer the question: what is the original wording of Jude 1:22?

b). Pastoral considerations of the text.

According to the outline of Dr. Black’s book, to begin a textual study of any New Testament text with the goal of discovering the original wording (i.e the work of textual criticism), one must begin with preliminary work. This entails the following steps as outlined by Dr. Black:

I. Preliminaries

A. A Biblical Reference

B. Greek Text involved in variation as found in prominent critical editions of the Greek New Testament

C. Literal rendering

D & E. Listing two or more major English translation renderings

F. Deliniation of the textual difficulty or problem(2)

In the last post we dealt with the points of the above outline. I won’t rehearse the spade work already done, since the reader, if inclined, can refer to such at the following link: https://biblicalexegete.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/part-two-a-pastors-textual-critical-study-of-jude-122-preliminary-considerations/

Instead, today’s post will continue on with finishing up the preliminary considerations that Dr. Black spells out in his book as one aims to perform any sort of textual study. This particular post will initiate readers to working with the collection of textual information in a Greek New Testament called a “textual criticism”. Again, the aim of these posts is to not only determine as much as possible the original wording of Jude 1:22, but also to pastorally consider how we can help those who struggle with doubts in the Christian faith. First, I will list the remaining portion of the preliminary outline as given in Dr. Black’s book, followed by working through those points and thus finishing up this first leg of the overall study. To begin, the outline continues as follows:

F. Deliniation of the textual difficulty or problem

  1. List any alternative readings
  2. Label each alternative as to the kind of variation involved (e.g., omission, addition, transposition of words, substitution).
  3. Translate the alternatives so as to bring out the differences in meaning that each conveys

And now for exploring each of these thoughts as they relate to the text of Jude 1:22

1. List any alternative readings

When we consult a critical edition of the Greek New Testament, we are looking at data that is found on a given verse among all of the available manuscripts of the Greek New Testament and its ancient translations. In general, a page of any modern Greek New Testament will be comprised of two parts:

a). The main body of the text itself

b). A textual apparatus, which lists all of the pertinent manuscripts, readings and information on the readings.

According to this author’s picture of a page from the Nestle-Aland 28th edition Greek New Testament, the following alternative readings are found among the manuscript copies of Jude 1:22:(3)

2015-12-23 18.00.47

Whenever one first looks at a textual apparatus as pictured above, it can on first glance appear bewilderingly complex. However, once the reader understands the symbols, abbreviations and letters, the apparatus becomes a useful tool to the student and scholar alike. Thankfully, all the editions of the Greek New Testament published today have introductory sections that explains all the numerous symbols. For our purposes in this post, we simply want to list the alternative readings along with the main text. Since we are consulting the Nestle-Aland  28th edition, we will begin with its main text and then list the alternative readings or variants as viewed in the photo above. In order for the reader to distinguish each variant, italicized and bold print will be used:(4)

Main Text: και ους μεν ελεατε διακρινομενους = “and on such that doubt, show mercy” (AT).

Variant #1: και ους μεν ελεειτε δισκρινομενους

Variant #2: και ους μεν ελεειτε δισκρινομενοι

Variant #3: και ους μεν ελεγχετε δισκρινομενους

2. Label each alternative as to the kind of variation involved (e.g., omission, addition, transposition of words, substitution).

As we consider each of the variations above, we can classify all of them as cases of “substitution”, whereby the scribes copying the given manuscripts substitute letters, words or phrases. Such “substitutions” can occur from scribes smoothing out the text, copying the manuscript from memory or copying the word differently due to changes in spelling.

In regards to the verbs, when we consider variants #1 & #2, we find that both readings include a variation of the verb ελεαω (“I show mercy”). In the main text the verb is in the 2nd person plural, present active imperative (ελεατε = show mercy). For the alternative readings, the verb has a variation of spelling of ελεειτε. Greek grammarians (such as Dr. William Mounce’s “Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar”) have explained that whenever the vowel combination “εει” occurs, it would under normal circumstances reduce down to “εα”, with the two vowels “ει” being a dipthong (two vowels that combine to make one sound – i.e “ay”). (5) Whenever this combination occurs with the first epsilon (ε), the iota (ι) drops off -and thus we are left with “εα”. Both readings have an identical meaning with the variation having to do with reduction of the vowels in the main text of the NA 28, and retension of all the vowels in the two variant readings. Variation #3 contains a different verb –  ελεγχετε (rebuke, correct, reprove). The great late Greek Scholar Dr. Bruce Metzger comments on this variation:(6)

“Although the latter reading (ελεγχετε) was widely known in the ancient church (cf. the versions and fathers that support it), a majority of the committee preferred to follow the testimony of the Alexandrian text (א, B) and regarded ελεγχετε as a scribal modification introduced in order to differentiate the statement from that in the clause ους δε ελεατε is ver. 23, thus producing a sequence progressing from severity (“reprove”) to compassion (“show mercy”).”

So with the verbs considered in the alternate readings, what about the other forms of grammar – namely the participles δισκρινομενους (variants #1 & #3) and δισκρινομενοι (variation #2). The former is in what is called the “accusative masculine plural”, meaning that the doubters are the recipients of the given pastoral action (whether “showing mercy”, as in variation #1 or “rebuking” in variation #3). The main text of Nestle-Aland’s 28th edition includes this same participle. The form of the participle in variant #2 is in what is called the “nominative masculine plural”, meaning that those who are commanded to show mercy are to do so with an attitude of careful discernment or as the English translations render, “showing difference”. If this form of the participle is taken as original, then the verse focuses more of the attention on those in the congregation exercising proper mercy toward specific people who are struggling in the faith without necessarily identifying the nature of such struggle.

In once again appealing to Dr. Metzger’s commentary on this variation, he notes:

“Instead of δισκρινομενους (Dr. Metzger lists several manuscript witnesses, which we will focus on in the next post), the Textus receptus (the underlying Greek text of the KJV, NKJV), following most of the later witnesses (again, Dr. Metzger lists the manuscript witnesses, which again, will be the focal point of the next post), reads δισκρινομενοι. The latter reading is obviously a secondary development, introduced by copyists in order to conform the participle to the nominative case in agreement with the following two participles in ver. 23 (αρπαζοντες = ‘snatch’ and μισουντες = ‘hating’).

3. Translate the alternatives so as to bring out the differences in meaning that each conveys

The foregoing discussion illustrates how detailed such discussions can become when dealing with matters of textual criticism. From a practical standpoint, whether the focal point is on the believer’s approach to those struggling in their faith or whether the text is actually naming the nature of the struggle (i.e “doubting”) makes a difference. How do these alternate reading translate in comparison to what is read in the main text of the Nestle Aland 28th edition. Below is a summary of the translations, taken from well established English translations:

Main Text: και ους μεν ελεατε διακρινομενους = “And have mercy on some, who are doubting;” (NASB).

Variant #1: και ους μεν ελεειτε δισκρινομενους = “And have mercy on some, who are doubting;” (NASB)

Variant #2: και ους μεν ελεειτε δισκρινομενοι = “And on some have compassion, making a distinction;” (NKJV)

Variant #3: και ους μεν ελεγχετε δισκρινομενους = “And some indeed reprove, being judged:” (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition)

Thus concludes the preliminary considerations of our textual study of Jude 1:22. According to Dr. Black’s method, the next step will be to consider the external manuscripts themselves that supply the sources for the variations. The reader may had noticed the appearances of letters in numbers in the picture of the apparatus in today’s post. In the next post we will deal more specifically with what we mean by manuscript witnesses, and how a basic understanding of them contributes in this particular study.

More next time….

Endnotes:                                                     

  1. Black, David Alan. New Testament Textual Criticism – A Concise. Baker Books. 1994
  2. Black, David Alan. New Testament Textual Criticism – A Concise. Baker Books. 1994. Page 67
  3. Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece 28th revised edition. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. 2013
  4. Mounce, William. Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar. Zondervan. 2009
  5. Metzger, Bruce M. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft United Bible Societies. 1993. ppgs 659-660
  6. Metzger, Bruce M. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft United Bible Societies. 1993. pggs 659-660
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About pastormahlon

By the grace of God I was converted to saving faith in Jesus Christ at the age of 10 and called into the Gospel ministry by age 17. Through the Lord's grace I completed a Bachelors in Bible at Lancaster Bible College in 1996 and have been married to my beautiful wife since that same year. We have been blessed with four children, ranging from 7-18 years of age. In 2002 the Lord enabled me to complete a Master of Arts in Christian Thought at Biblical Theological Seminary, Hatfield PA. For nearly 25 years I have been preaching and teaching God's Word and have been studying the original languages since 1994. In 2016 God called my family and me to move to begin a pastorate at a wonderful Southern Baptist Congregation here in Northern New York.
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3 Responses to Part Three – A Textual Critical Study of Jude 1:22 – beginning to work with a textual apparatus

  1. Tommy Wasserman says:

    Merry Christmas! You would love my textual apparatus of Jude. It contains 560 MSS. There is a textual commentary covering over 100 variants including this one, which is quite complex; several scholars have commented on these particular verses. My monograph on Jude is available from Eisenbrauns.

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