Part Four – A Textual Critical Study of Jude 1:22 – Considering the external manuscript evidence

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

Introduction and Review

In our last post in this series, we had begun considering what is called a “textual apparatus” in the standardized critical edition of the Greek New Testament ( )

Whenever anyone attempts to establish the original wording of a given document, a “textual apparatus” aids in listing all of the known manuscripts and more significant readings. Such a tool aids students and scholars alike so as to avoid combing through every single manuscript on a given passage. 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”.The point of this 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.

Before getting into what will be a somewhat technical discussion, I want to remind the reader that from a pastoral perspective, how we deal with Christians who struggle with doubt makes all the difference in the world. The textual study of Jude 1:22 leads us to ask two questions: Are we obligated to press them to deal head-on with their doubts and perhaps pressure them to see the folly in denying the faith? Or do we take a more gentle approach?

How we answer this question will depend on our conclusions concerning the original wording of Jude 1:22. Thankfully we have Jude 1:23, which gives further instructions on what can be a touch pastoral issue. Nonetheless, the reader is to be reminded that this series of posts aims at equipping the heart as well as feeding the mind.

Thus far, per the outline of Dr. Black’s book, we have worked through the following points in our study of Jude 1:22: (1)

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

  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

Today’s post aims to look closer at the textual evidence considered in the last post by noting the major manuscript witnesses for each reading – or what scholars call “external evidence”. This post will help readers become more acquainted with some of the letters and notations in a standard critical apparatus (such as the Nestle-Aland 28th Edition). Dr. David Alan Black’s outline for textual study will be employed once again in aiding our journey.

II. External Evidence

A. Accumulation of Evidence. The reader can take note of the following photograph of the critical apparatus for the Greek Text of Jude 1:22 that lists the relevant data:

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1. List readings. When we begin to read a critical apparatus, we first of all want to note the Greek phrases and words or “readings” that represent the variations of the phrases or words in a given text found in the main manuscript witnesses. In the above picture, one begins with verse “22” (found in the upper left hand corner). We find three such readings or variations of Jude 1:22, not going beyond “23”, which of course stands for “Jude 1:23”. For the reader’s convenience, I will list the main readings below along with the wording deemed the most likely reading of the original (i.e “the Main Text”) and a basic translation of each reading:

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

Variant #1: και ους μεν ελεειτε δισκρινομενους = “and on such that doubt, show mercy”

Variant #2: και ους μεν ελεειτε δισκρινομενοι “and on such, be those who exercise discernment – showing mercy”

Variant #3: και ους μεν ελεγχετε δισκρινομενους  = “and on such that doubt, bring correction”

2. Record the evidence for each reading

In an edition of the Greek New Testament such as the Nestle Aland 28, there is an introduction that explains all of the little symbols and marks found in the critical apparatus. As with anything, repeated use and exposure makes working with the apparatus a useful effort in digging into the text. In the below two pictures I have the text of Jude 1:22 and its corresponding textual data. For the sake of clarity, I will give a description of the evidence in the apparatus and the symbols marked in the text for each of the readings. so as to give the reader a taste of what it is like working with the text itself:

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2015-12-23 18.00.47

The reader will first note a little circle (also called a ‘circule’) beside the word “και” (“and”), indicating that in the Papyrus 72 (P72), a 3rd-4th century papyrus, that little conjunction was absent. This tells us that the witness is significant, however it is only one witness out of the 5688 witnesses of the Greek New Testament that otherwise include “και” (“and”).

Next we find one witness, manuscript 1852, a 13th century medieval manuscript written in what is called “the cursive hand” or oftentimes referred to as a “minuscule”, meaning that the Greek letters are connected together in lowercase form. This one manuscript is the only witness containing the reading “ους μεν ελεειτε δισκρινομενους” = “and on such that doubt, show mercy”. The verb in the sentence (ελεειτε = have mercy) is a spelling variation of the verb ελεατε, and is also found in the variant reading και ους μεν ελεειτε δισκρινομενοι “and on such, be those who exercise discernment – showing mercy”.

As we consider the variant reading και ους μεν ελεειτε δισκρινομενοι “and on such, be those who exercise discernment – showing mercy”, it has several manuscript witnesses. There is a manuscript “P”. Whenever we see an uppercase letter or a number beginning with a zero, that indicates the manuscript to be what is called an “Uncial”, which refers to the way in which the lettering is written. Uncial manuscripts are so-called because of their Upper-case block lettering. The next three witnesses are “miniscule” manuscripts (1175, 1448, 2492). The one manuscript (1175) is valuable in that it’s reading may possibly be traced back through a family of manuscripts that had the same reading centuries prior to that manuscript itself.

The reader then can note the abbreviation “Byz” which stands for “Byzantine manuscripts”. Without going into technical detail, this symbol indicates that in the majority of Greek New Testament manuscripts (80% or more, manuscripts copied through the middle ages). Though this can be an impressive amount of evidence for a given reading, one of the rules of thumb in textual criticism is that “witnesses must be weighed and not just counted”. In other words, a given reading of text may have the majority of manuscript evidence on its side, however, is that reading restricted to a particular geogrpahical region? Do we see examples of that reading reaching back into the earlier centuries of the days of the church fathers or in earlier manuscripts? Such questions need to be asked when interpreting the data as we have thus far.

So in our interpretation of the evidence cited in the apparatus so far, we have explored two variant readings. The third variant reading, και ους μεν ελεγχετε δισκρινομενους  = “and on such that doubt, bring correction”, contains the most interesting listing of manuscript evidence. First, we find two major uncial manuscripts, Codex Alexandrinus (A) of the 5th century and Codex Ephraemi (C) of the 5th century. Both of these manuscripts are valuable not only for their age, but also for the particular group of readings contained in their manuscripts. The second grouping of manuscript witnesses are the so-called minuscule manuscripts which represent readings from a particular collection of 9/10th century manuscripts that scholars consider to be extremely valuable (manuscripts 33,81, 1739). These manuscripts are given more weight due to how in some cases, they may represent older manuscripts from whence they were copied.

The remaining minuscules (1611, 1744, 635) represent manuscripts written in the early medeival era. The third group of witnesses contain the ancient versions, or “versional evidence”, entailing early translations of the Greek text, including the Vulgate (vg), or Jerome’s 5th century work, and an ancient dialect called the “Boharic” (abbreviated “bo”).  Ancient versions can be valuable due to the fact they were translated from Greek manuscripts that preceeded their existence and which existed decades to centuries prior, thus taking us back closer to the early form of the text.

The reader may notice a mark with two vertical lines, one atop the other, with further notations and abbreviations. This represents a “variation within the variation” of και ους μεν ελεγχετε δισκρινομενους  = “and on such that doubt, bring correction”. In this sub-division, the reading is the same, only with the omission of the conjunction “και” = “and” (see comments above with regards to P72 at the beginning part underneath the picture of the apparatus and the text of Jude 1:22). We find further evidence for this variant in two classes of witnesses. First, we note ancient versions (Syriac Philoxenia = Syr P and the Sahidic version -Sa), which are ancient versions representing an early stage of the New Testament text.  The second class of witnesses are the Church Father’s, that is, the early Christian leaders of the first few centuries of church history. Church Father’s such as Clement of Alexandria (abbreviation “Cl“) and Jerome (abbreviated Heir, which would had been his Latin name Heirome). Both of these men respectively wrote in 215 A.D and 400 A.D, which tells us that when they quoted Jude 1:22, they were using readings that date back to at least the early third century.

A few further remarks concerning Black’s outline and recording of the textual evidence for Jude 1:22

My aim has been to interpret all that we read in the apparatus above. As one continues on in Black’s outline, he has the manuscript evidenced to be divided up according to various families of readings, which we won’t get into in this post. In short, when we speak of textual “families”, we are referring to certain patterns shared among manuscripts that are shaped by such factors as geographical location of the manuscripts as they were used or copied (Alexandrian manuscripts would had been copied or used mainly around Alexandria Egypt, Byzantine manuscripts were those originating from copying centers located in ancient Byzantium or modern day Turkey), age of the manuscript (Alexandrian manuscripts have typically older readings and Byzantine manuscripts have later readings).

Dr. Black also has those using his outline to draw up two columns wherein each variant is placed in the order that represents which reading is more likely the original reading to which reading is the least. Hence such a procedure would entail listing the variants like we did earlier, with the only difference being that we list them in order from most likely original to least likely. Of the four reading possibilities of the text of Jude 1:22, two are leading candidates and represent what we find in modern editions of the Greek New Testament as well as English translations:

και ους μεν ελεατε διακρινομενους = “and on such that doubt, show mercy”

και ους μεν ελεγχετε δισκρινομενους  = “and on such that doubt, bring correction”

In our next post we will round out our discussion of the external evidence by discerning which of the above readings is likely original given the manuscript data we combed through already in the textual apparatus. The aim of next time too will be to begin considering the internal evidence of either reading – which is to say – which reading reflects best Jude’s authorship, vocabulary style and overall argument. More next time….


  1. Black, David Alan. New Testament Textual Criticism – A Concise. Baker Books. 1994



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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