Monday, November 08, 2010

Textual Issues: 2 Peter 2:4

The major issue in this verse is over whether the text should read “chains (seirais) of darkness” or “dungeons (sirois) of darkness.”

External evidence:

“Chains” is supported by p72, P, Psi, and the Majority of manuscripts. This is the reading that appears in the traditional text, and it is also the reading adopted by the modern critical Greek text.

“dungeons” is supported by Sinaiticus. Codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus also offer support but apparently alter the spelling from sirois to seirois.

Internal Evidence:

Metzger defends the original reading as seirais. He speculates that 2 Peter is literarily dependent on Jude and that the author of 2 Peter “substituted the more elegant word serais for the commonplace desmois of Jude 6.” It is “both the oldest (it is read by p72) and the most widespread” (Textual Commentary, p. 702).

Translation choices:

Translations based on the traditional text read “chains” (see KJV, NKJV). Given the support of the traditional reading in the modern critical text, various modern translation also follow suit (cf. NRSV, HCSB, ESV). Some modern translations, however, offer a rare departure from the modern critical text and follow the alternative reading (cf. NIV: “gloomy dungeons”; NASB: “pits of darkness”).


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