Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Textual Note: Romans 7:20

The issue:

The textual variationin Romans 7:20 is not readily apparent in English versions, because it does not affect the translation. The question is whether or not the first person pronoun ego appears after the verb thelo.

External evidence:

The traditional text includes the pronoun. The reading is supported by Sinaiticus, Alexandrinus, Psi, and the majority of texts.

The pronoun is omitted in Vaticanus and some other codices (C, D, F, G, et al).

Internal evidence:

It is certainly easy to see how the pronoun would be omitted since its presence is not essential for understanding that the verb is in the first person. Also, parablepsis is a real possibility since the scribe’s eye could easily  have taken the omega with which thelo ends for the omega with which ego ends and omitted the pronoun.

Metzger does not bother to address this verse in his Textual Commentary. The modern text includes the pronoun but places it in brackets.


Though it does not affect translation or meaning, there is no driving reason to remove the pronoun or to bracket it. The omission is likely due to parablepsis. This textual issue provides another example of a place where Sinaiticus (includes) and Vaticanus (omits) provide a divided witness. These two ancient witnesses do not present a united front against the traditional text!


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