Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Textual Notes on 1 Peter 5:8

1 Peter 5:8 is one of those brief verses with a complicated textual background:

First, there is the issue of the inclusion or omission of the causal conjunction hoti. Should it read, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about….” (AV based on TR) or “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion….” (NASB based on modern critical text)?

The Textus Receptus reading, which includes the conjunction, is supported by p72, the second corrector of Sinaiticus, L, Psi, and a number of minuscules, as well as Latin, Syriac, and Coptic versions.

It is omitted in the original hand of Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, and Vaticanus. This is also the reading of the Majority Text, one example of a place where the TR and the Majority Text diverge.

Second, two early manuscripts (p72 and 33) add the definite article ho before diabolos ("the devil").

Third, and most significantly, there is wide divergence on the final two words (in the TR, tina katapie, “whom he may devour”). Metzger describes three main variations (Textual Commentary, pp. 696-97):

a. tina katapiein “seeking someone to devour”; supported by Sinaiticus, K, P, and Origen. This is the reading of the modern critical Greek text, though it is given a weak {D} reading and the tina is placed in brackets.

b. tina katapie “seeking whom he may devour”; supported by p72 and Alexandrinus.

c. katapien “to devour”; supported by Vaticanus, Psi, and the Latin translation of Origen.

Reflections: Again, we see here the great variety of readings that can be found in a single verse. Sometimes it is made to sound as if “the oldest and most reliable manuscripts” uniformly stand opposed to the traditional text. This verse illustrates that this is a fallacy. The ending of 1 Peter 5:8 reads differently in p72, Sinaiticus, and Vaticanus! At some point, a traditional text of Scripture emerged. As with the question of which books were to be included in the canon of Scripture, the emergence of the authoritative text of Scripture did not come about through church councils but through use by the people of God. Just as we say that the Bible chose the church rather than the church choosing the Bible, so we might say that the text chose the church rather than the church choosing the text. This was the case up until about 100 years ago when modern academics suggested that the received text should be jettisoned in favor of one deemed to be “more original” by scholars. Since that time, rather than the text choosing the church, it has been the academy choosing the text. What has been the result?


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